Wenatchee, Wash. – More firefighting crews have arrived at the 80,400-acre Colockum Tarps Fire to help prepare for planned aerial and ground ignition of unburned fuels inside the west perimeter of the Fire. Fire managers called off the burnout yesterday because fine fuels – grasses and small-sized forest litter – were too moist to carry a thorough fire. Firefighters tested ignition yesterday, which was unsuccessful. They will test again this afternoon when relative humidity is expected to drop 5-10 percent and temperatures increase.
Firefighters will conduct a test fire in Division C today. If the test fire is successful, they will begin burnout of the fire line. This burnout action improves the effectiveness of constructed fire lines by removing fuels inside the line for up to several hundred feet. Fire managers expect the ignition the area below these lines to burn up to the prepared, reinforced line and substantially reduce the potential for the fire to escape control lines in the future.
In Division D, firefighters will continue to construct direct fire line and anticipate only small areas along the line will need to be burned out.
Any structures or residences outside of the fire area will be protected during the burnout by firefighting crews standing by with engines. If the burnout is conducted today, additional strike teams of engines will be place to continue patrolling and mopping up during night shifts tonight. There are 20 firefighting crews assigned to the fire. The fire is 60 percent contained.
The last remaining fire line along the western fire perimeter is being completed today. Steep, irregular terrain has made completion of this line difficult. All other fire lines surrounding the Colockum Tarps Fire have been reinforced similarly by widening the line and mopping up (burning out fine fuels and extinguishing hot spots) inside them. Fifty percent of fire lines along the northern-most perimeter are presently rehabilitated.
The fire received a small amount of rain yesterday as isolated showers in the western divisions. Humidity levels ranged from 60 to 70 percent. Today, winds will be out of the northwest at 5 to 10 miles per hour and humidity is expected to drop to 35 percent. If the burnout activities are conducted, the public can expect to see an increase in smoke or a possible smoke column.
Evacuations remain in effect in Kittitas County. Level 3 evacuation status remains unchanged for the area west of the fire in Kittitas County where residents from approximately 45 structures are still evacuated. The area between the Vantage Highway and the Wild Horse Wind Farm Visitors Center has been reduced to Level 2. There is no longer any evacuation in effect along the Columbia River so the Vantage boat launch and parking area have reopened. A map of Kittitas County evacuation areas is available at http://tinyurl.com/jvz3x3u. The Level 1 Evacuation Notification is still in effect for vicinities accessed by Colockum Road, Tarpiscan Road, and Kingsbury Road in Chelan County. The Colockum Road is still closed in Kittitas County.
The Colockum Tarps Fire has been burning since Saturday, July 27, 2013, through dry grass, sagebrush and timber growing in steep drainages along the western shore of the Columbia River, 11 miles southwest of Wenatchee, Washington. On July 31, the push from easterly winds moved the fire toward sparsely populated areas along the Parke, Caribou and Colockum Roads in Kittitas County where a Level 3 evacuation notice was issued.