Diamond Creek Fire makes a southerly run

— The Diamond Creek Fire is making a run southward, prompting a Level 2 evacuation warning for the Mazama area on Wednesday morning, Sept. 13.

The warning – get ready to leave – is for the Mazama, Lost River and Rendezvous areas.

An informational meeting is planned at 6 p.m. today at the Mazama Community Club, 512 Goat Creek Road.

The fire is about 11 miles north-northwest of Mazama. The human-caused blaze, reported July 23, has burned across 119,569 acres – 95,959 in the United States and 23,610 in Canada. It is about 30 percent contained.

Fire managers recommended and Okanogan County Department of Emergency Management and Okanogan County Fire District No. 6 decided to raise the evacuation level, which had been at Level 1 since last week.

“This decision was due to increased fire activity in the Monument Creek and Pat Creek drainages, combined with a weather forecast that calls for strong northerly winds,” fire officials said.

In Pat Creek, the fire moved uphill toward the divide with Auburn Creek. The fire in Pat Creek is of concern because of its potential to slop over from Auburn Creek into the Goat Creek drainage where fuels and topography are aligned for a run to the south.

Three medium helicopters and one heavy helicopter dropped “significant amounts” of water to slow the fire in the area until late afternoon Tuesday, when powerful winds threatened pilot safety and the aircraft were grounded, fire officials said.

In Monument Creek the fire moved slowly south to the bowl below Lake Mountain. Crews and equipment working on a fire line north of Yellowjacket SnoPark made progress in pushing the line toward McLeod Mountain. On the northeast end of the fire, there was significant movement to the east from Remmel Creek toward the Tungsten Creek drainage, where it is running into the fire scar from the 2003 Farewell Fire.

Three additional crews will be arriving today to assist with line building in the hills north of Mazama. Eight pieces of heavy equipment are strengthening the lines in the Yellowjacket area.

Construction of line to McLeod Mountain should be finished today. Helicopters will be available for bucket drops on Wednesday.

As of Sept. 13, there were 94 people assigned to the fire.

A cold front passage was accompanied by strong winds which shifted from the west to the north yesterday. Despite cooler temperatures, the weather on Wednesday will be conducive to fire growth because of the speed and orientation of winds.

Fire officials said there is potential good news in the long-range forecast as a more autumnal pattern may develop starting Sunday, with rain predicted for the low country and potential snow above 6,000-foot elevations.

The winds should take smoke out of the Methow Valley today.

Campgrounds at Ballard and River Bend are closed. Harts Pass Road and the Pacific Crest Trail remain open, but fire managers warn that new closures could occur with little advance warning.

More than 60 roads and trails are closed, including Monument Trail No. 484 and Andrews Creek No. 504. More information is available at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5409/.

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