Firefighters on the Wenatchee Complex fire expected that Saturday s clear skies, stronger winds and lower humidity would produce more fire activity.
Ridgetop gusts as high as 20 mph were reported early Saturday morning. With large fuels already exceptionally dry, winds will speed the drying of fine fuels, increasing the risk of fire spread.
An infra-red flight Friday night reported an increase of 657 acres to bring the total acreage for the complex to 55,085.
Fire officials said beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, a pilot car would be used to guide one-lane traffic through Blewett Pass on U.S. Highway 97 from Milepost 163 to Milepost 166. Motorists can expect to see crews working in the area, searching out hotspots along the highway from a burnout operation earlier in the week. Please visit www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts for the latest information on U.S. 97.
As each fire in the complex reaches containment, local resource advisors are examining areas for the possibility of erosion, and are working with firefighters to put emergency stabilization measures into effect.
Until the area receives significant rain or snow, residents and visitors can expect to see smoke from fires in the complex.
The Table Mountain fire near Cle Elum covers 38,529 acres and is now 45 percent contained.
Firefighters are preparing for a wind event during the next several days as a dry cold front moves through the area. No moisture is forecast with the front and winds are expected to increase with gusts of up to 30 mph. Fire weakened trees in combination with increased winds could pose a health and safety concern. Precautions are being taken to mitigate the risk to firefighters within these areas.
Residents can expect an increase in smoke throughout the weekend due to firing operations.
Local road closures remain in effect; go to the Kittitas County Emergency Operations Center, Inciweb or the Okangon-Wenatchee National Forest website http://www.fs.usda.gov/okawen for current road and area closure information.
KING 5's Susan Wyatt contributed to this report