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News / Northwest

Fires in Wenatchee Valley contained, Pioneer Fire grows, ODESZA show sparks fire

By Pete O’Cain, The Wenatchee World
Published: July 9, 2024, 7:49am
2 Photos
A firefighter pulls a hose with the Pioneer Fire burning in the background.
A firefighter pulls a hose with the Pioneer Fire burning in the background. (Samson Olsen) Photo Gallery

WENTACHEE — Fireworks were blamed for at least two brush fires Friday and Saturday — one big, one small — as a heat wave settled into North Central Washington.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning and a fire weather warning for the area as high temperatures are expected to near or exceed 100 degrees throughout the week. Wednesday in Wenatchee is forecast to have a high of 105 with gusts up to 25 mph.

Beehive Fire

A small fire near the Beehive Reservoir outside Wenatchee prompted Level 3 evacuations — leave now — on Saturday.

The fire was reported about 12:15 p.m. at the reservoir 2 miles north of Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort. The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office announced Level 3 evacuation notices about an hour later.

Officials moved quickly to instate the evacuations because the heavily wooded area had the potential to cast embers to homes below, said Chief Brian Brett with the Wenatchee Valley Fire Department.

Firefighters from local fire districts, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Bureau of Land Management, along with multiple helicopters, responded to the fire. It burned about 5 acres and was contained late Saturday afternoon.

“It was a great catch,” Brett said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

  • Pioneer Fire

Level 3 evacuations removed in late June were reinstated and expanded on the Pioneer Fire burning along Lake Chelan.

The fire south of Stehekin nearly doubled in size last week. The fire was estimated at about 4,800 acres Thursday but has since grown to roughly 9,000 acres, according to Northwest Complex Incident Team 12, the incident management team overseeing the fire. It’s 14% contained.

The Level 3 evacuations are in place from about Moore Point 5 miles south of Stehekin to Safety Harbor 6.5 miles uplake from Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park.

Its footprint stretches from Meadow Creek in the north to nearly Lone Fire Creek in the south, a distance of about 8.5 miles, according to Chelan County’s evacuation map.

Authorities believe the blaze began June 8, about 11 miles south of Stehekin near Pioneer Creek, when a structure caught fire. It’s burning in the Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.

  • Balsam Root Fire

Over the weekend, crews completed containment of the 305-acre Balsam Root Fire, which had been ignited by fireworks early Friday morning in the Horse Lake Reserve.

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Several trails in the area were closed during firefighting operations. They have since reopened.

The fire threatened the Broadview neighborhood, which saw 28 homes destroyed in the 2015 Sleepy Hollow Fire. In the years that followed, residents have taken steps to protect their homes from future fires, which Brett said “made an enormous difference in our ability to protect all their homes.”

He noted that a prescribed burn in the drainage dividing Broadview and the Horse Lake Reserve was planned for fall. That’s been canceled. The next step for that area is to plant fire-resilient vegetation seeds in the fall.

  • The Gorge

A pyrotechnic display at The Gorge Amphitheatre during a performance on Saturday by electronic music duo ODESZA sparked a small brush fire at the concert venue.

Gorge staff put out the fire, but the remainder of the show was canceled, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. No one was injured.

In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s office noted that “the combination of fireworks laws and local ordinances creates confusion.” The department plans to discuss the issue with stakeholders.