Diamond fire grows to 350 acres

— The Diamond Creek Fire, burning north of town in the Pasayten Wilderness, has grown to an estimated 350 acres as of Wednesday morning, July 26.

Since yesterday, the fire has grown toward the east and into the Diamond Creek drainage. The blaze is 18 air miles north of Mazama.

Fire behavior included single and group tree torching, upslope runs and short-range spotting, said officials with the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. One spot fire cropped up about a third of a mile east of the main fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Active fire in the afternoon produced a smoke column visible to Methow Valley residents.

The short-term weather forecast is for continued hot and dry weather. The high-pressure system will contribute to poor smoke dispersal and continued hazy conditions, particularly around Mazama.

Suppression efforts so far have allowed for safe evacuation of hikers and outfitters in the area, and are allowing time for improving exit routes from the fire area. This includes brush clearing along the upper portion of Eightmile Road.

Given the steep terrain, limited access and available resources, continued direct suppression of the Diamond Creek Fire would not be sustainable, forest officials said. Now that evacuations are complete, other options can be considered.

Crews will continue reconnaissance and, identifying opportunities to confine the Diamond Creek Fire.

Where beneficial and safe to do so, firefighters are slowing fire spread to lessen impacts and reduce tree mortality, officials said.

The Whiskey Town Wildland Fire Module is scheduled to arrive today. The team will fly by helicopter to the fire area, where they will make observations, gather data, plan and begin implementation of a long-term strategy for confinement of the fire.

Among natural resource concerns is habitat for threatened and endangered species such as Canada lynx and bull trout.

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