By Michelle McNiel / The Wenatchee World
NCW — A weather inversion that kept wildfires in check over the weekend is expected to give way to dry, windy conditions and dry lightning that will challenge firefighting efforts across the region.
“Today we have a really heads-up day,” said fire spokesman Rick Acosta. “We have a red-flag warning today through Wednesday for dry conditions and very unstable air that could promote fire growth. We could also experience dry lightning, and everybody knows what that means.”
The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for critical fire weather from noon Monday through 5 p.m. Wednesday. The weather system is expected to bring dry lightning over the east slopes of the Cascades and Wenatchee on Monday and the Okanogan Highlands on Tuesday. Strong, gusty winds are also possible.
In other fire developments, a new national fire management team was taking over the Carlton, Upper Falls and Little Bridge Creek fires in Okanogan County on Monday. The main fire camp at Liberty Bell High School was disbanding and moving to a private ranch south of Twisp to make way for back-to-school preparations.
Overall, fires burning across North Central Washington were relatively calm over the weekend. Here’s a rundown:
Hansel (Blewett Pass area): 970 acres, 15 percent contained, fire moving uphill away from homes. A contingency line has been completed around Valley Hi.
Duncan (Entiat Valley): 10,406 acres, work continues to clear brush, small trees and lower branches of large trees along the Entiat River Road and Shady Pass Road to hopefully stop the fire if it reaches there.
Chiwaukum (northwest of Leavenworth): 13,887 acres, 40 percent contained, still burning actively in the high country.
Shoofly (north of Stevens Pass): 75 acres, no containment, rappellers flown in over the weekend to build containment lines.
Alpine (west of Lake Wenatchee): 18 acres, crews have built containment lines.
Carlton (Okanogan County): 256,108 acres, still 92 percent contained.
Upper Falls (north of Winthropf): 7,102 acres, no containment.
Little Bridge Creek (west of Twisp): 3,734 acres, 10 percent contained, successful burnout on Sunday to create fire lines. More scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Burnout operations causing thick smoke in the area.