Wenatchee—Lightning late Wednesday night ignited two fires on the Methow Valley Ranger District in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
The 40-acre Tatie Peak Fire is burning in the Slate Creek drainage, about 3 miles from Harts Pass and 20 miles northwest of Mazama.
“We are in the process of closing the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Cutthroat Pass to Harts Pass and also Slate Creek Road No. 700,” said Methow Valley District Ranger Mike Liu. “Our main concerns include predicted lightning igniting more fires, lack of firefighting resources and the large number of miners in the bottom of the Slate Creek drainage--there is only one road in and out of this drainage.”
Liu said the closures might seem premature, but it takes quite a substantial amount of time to notify miners and for them to leave the area.
“The fire is also close to the ridge where the PCT is located; this is a high traffic section of the trail and we want to make sure that the public is safe and out of the area in case this fire grows in size,” Liu added.
The second lightning-caused fire is the half-acre Cutthroat Fire burning 9 miles southwest of Mazama and is very visible from the heavily traveled North Cascades State Highway 20. A crew of firefighters hiked into the fire late Wednesday evening and rappellers arrived this morning to assist with firefighting efforts on the main fire and also on a quarter-acre spot fire nearby.
“There are a lot of bug-killed trees and snags in this area, these are hazards that must be considered in making fire suppression plans and for firefighter safety,” Liu said.
A Red Flag Warning has been issued today for all of North Central Washington to the Idaho and Canadian borders. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create extreme fire growth potential.