WILDFIRE WATCH 2014: Devil's Elbow Complex burns nearly 18,000 - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

WILDFIRE WATCH 2014: Devil's Elbow Complex burns nearly 18,000 acres, 4% contained

Posted: Updated:
UPDATE: KELLER, Wash. - The Devil's Elbow complex fire has burned nearly 18,000 and is only 4% contained. Fire officials expect the fire will grow anywhere from 1/2 mile to 1 mile for every day it is not contained. Evacuation orders are still in effect as homes and structures are still threatened.

The road closure and Level 3 evacuation on Highway 21 has been extended north. The closure goes from Capoose Creek north to the Bear Creek Campground (Anderson Creek).

UPDATE:
KELLER, Wash.- 150 homes and 90 structures are still threatened by the Devil's Elbow Complex Fires, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Last night firefighters started the first of several large, planned burnouts. The burnouts will help reduce fuel between the containment lines and the wildfire. The fire is still active because of fuel and dry weather. It is just 4 percent contained.

"Today and tonight are critical opportunities for safe, aggressive, effective firefighting," said Larry Nickey, incident commander with the Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #4. More than 120 firefighters are expected to work overnight on burnouts.

Highway 21 remains closed from Bridge Creek Road to the Bear Creek Campground. The San Poil River Road is closed north of Bridge Creek Road. 

Evacuation Notifications:

  • Level 1 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from the Twentyone Mile Road to Anderson Creek.
  • Level 2 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from Anderson Creek to the Bear Creek Campground.Level 3 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from the Bear Creek Campground to Capoose Creek/Meadow.
  • Level 2 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from Capoose Creek/Meadow to Cache Creek Road.
  • Level 2 Evacuation on the Bridge Creek Road from its intersection with Hwy 21 east to the Keno Mine Campground. 

A Community Meeting is planned for Monday August 11 at 7 pm at the Keller Community Center.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

KELLER, Wash.- Thursday afternoon a new fire along the Silver Creek Road has currently made travel dangerous between Inchelium and Keller. Silver Creek Road is closed from Frielander Meadows Road to Nine Mile Road.


The Bridge Creek Road to Hwy 21, Hwy 21 between the Bridge Creek Road and the Cache Creek Road, and the Cache Creek Road remain open. Although incident commanders say these roads may be temporarily closed at ANYTIME if necessary to protect firefighter and public safety.

Crews say that if temporary closures occur, they will likely be in the range of 20-30 minutes. Incident commanders released this statement late Thursday:

The Devil's Elbow Complex fires and firefighting activity make it a serious situation for travel. Please drive slowly and stay alert. There may be smoke and firefighter traffic in the area. Your safe driving helps firefighters do their work to protect you and to ensure that these roads stay open and safe. Contact the Colville Confederated Tribes' toll free number for updated information on road closures at 888-881-7684.

The Devil's Elbow fire is now estimated to be 8,400 acres in size. Containment was not discussed by incident commanders, but Wednesday night they said it was likely only 5%. The same evacuation notices listed Wednesday night remain in effect. Please see below:

UPDATE: A community meeting was held Wednesday night regarding Devil's Elbow Complex. In attendance was Linda Novotney. She and her family were evacuated Tuesday because of the Devil's Elbow Complex. The following statement was written by Linda Novotney. The specifics about the fire have been confirmed by KHQ:

Incident commanders say they expect the Cub Creek Fire and the Central Peak Fire to meet. They have expanded the level 3 evacuations-from Bridge Creek to South Nanamkin (about another 3 miles north). They estimate containment at about 5%. They will escort evacuated people to their homes only if there is a pet left in the home or there is some other extenuating circumstance that needs addressed. But for no more than an hour. We were told not to expect to be able to go home for another 24 to 48 hours. We ourselves, will be able to ride with a representative of TOSHA (Tribal OSHA) Thursday morning and collect our indoor cat as well as clothing and essentials for our daughter. She was unable to grab anything as she drove home from her place of employment in Republic, just in time to evacuate. Power is on to the homes but phone lines are down. Representatives from Mt. Tolman Fire Control, TOSHA, Colville Tribal Social Services, Colville Tribal Health, and Keller's Colville Business Council members Joe Somday and Jack Ferguson were also present to assist in any way possible. It was mentioned twice that if it were not for the exceptional efforts of Colville Tribal EMS Fire & Rescue and Mt. Tolman's teams, three homes would for sure be lost, one of them being ours.

UPDATE: KELLER, Wash.- On Wednesday afternoon the incident management team assigned to the Devil's Elbow Complex updated the size from 2,500 acres to closer to 8,000 acres, more than triple the original size.

The incident management team said there are three fires burning north of Keller that make up about 7,000 acres. There is a fourth fire, near Nespelem, that is about 500 acres. That fourth fire is contained and crews are in the mop-up phase. Those sizes are an estimate and crews say they plan to fire over the fire lines Wednesday night with an infrared plane to get a more precise size.

At this point the incident management team would not hazard to guess containment, but said, "we haven't calculated a number, but it's low." The good news in all of this is that there have been no homes burned and no significant injuries.

One of the biggest problems facing firefighters is simply a lack of resources. They told us that there are so many wildfires burning in Washington state right now that resources are extremely scarce. Karen Ripley, with the Washington Interagency Management Team # 4, said there is a lot of negotiation for the resources available.

Ripley said they are trying to bring in crews from out of state to help out. Right now there are 210 personnel assigned to the Devil's Elbow Complex, but Ripley said on Thursday they hope to double that number. Ripley said these fires were likely sparked by lightning on August 2nd.

Evacuations as of Wednesday 8pm:

Level 1 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from the Bear Creek Campground to the State Gravel Pit that is just north of the North Nanamkin Road.

Level 2 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from the State Gravel Pit that is just north of the North Nanamkin Road to the South Nanamkin Road.

Level 3 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from the South Nanamkin Road to the Bridge Creek Road.

Level 2 Evacuation from the intersection of Hwy 21 south to Capoose Creek/Meadow and east to the Roadside Park/Gravel Pit at Keno Trail.

Level 1 Evacuation along Hwy 21 from the Capoose Creek/Meadow to McAllister Road.

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