OKANOGAN COUNTY – Ninety-eight fires were caused by lightning from Thursday, July 23 through Sunday, July 26.
“The majority of the fires were in Okanogan and Ferry counties,” Rette Bibstrut, center manager at Northeast Washington Interagency Communication Center, said. “Most were less than five acres and a variety of agencies responded to the fires. The largest fire was 6.5 acres in French Place, which is on Texas Creek Road in Okanogan County.”
She added that the majority of fires were caused by lightning but a few are being investigated further so she doesn’t know what their official cause is yet.
A press release from the U.S. Forest Service said more than 45 fires in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest were ignited by lightning on July 23 and 24.
“A good amount of rainfall covered some of the areas that received lightning, however it is expected that ‘sleepers’ or holdover fires will become more active as weather conditions grow warmer and drier,” the release states. “The majority of these fires are less than a tenth of an acre in size and are staffed by firefighting personnel. The largest fire on national forest is an 18-acre blaze burning in the South Benson Creek drainage approximately eight miles southeast of the town of Twisp. The fire is 80 percent contained. No structures or towns are threatened by the fires.”
According to the press release, the 162-acre Shull Ridge fire, which is also burning in the Pasayten Wilderness eight miles south of the international border and 22 miles northwest of Mazama, will continue to be monitored and evaluated on a daily basis.
The storm that passed over North Central Washington caused more than fires.
“Rains from recent thunderstorms have caused minor mudslides and debris flows on Harts Pass Road #5400 on the Methow Valley Ranger District,” a press release from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest states. “Several road culverts are blocked and road damage has occurred to Harts Pass Road between Deadhorse Point and Harts Pass. Road crews will be working for the next few weeks to repair the road damage. Visitors may encounter temporary delays or closures due to road repair work. High ground clearance vehicles are currently recommended.”