Cooler weather hits as Williams Flats Fire grows to 40,000 acres

(STAFF REPORTS)

The Williams Flat Fire is now at 40,000 acres. (Courtesy photo)

Over 1,130 firefighters working on blaze…

After several days of hot weather, firefighters got brief reprieve on Friday as overcast weather and rain is sweeping through NE Washington. The Williams Flats Fire has grown to 40,000 acres since a lightning strike started the blaze several days ago. This new storm system is also bringing thunderstorms, and could cause more fires to pop up.

Located in the Colville Indian Reservation, the Williams Flats Fire is still on the Ferry County side of the Columbia River. Level three evacuation orders have been issued for Southwest of Wilmont Creek to Whitestone Lookout Road.




There is a Level 2 evacuation order in place for Wilmont Creek drainage, and a Level 1 evacuation advisory has been issued for all residents and campers along the shoreline of Lake Roosevelt/Columbia River from the Falls Creek/Cougar Canyon Road (the area sometimes called the Smoke Ranch) south to Wilmont Creek Road. This includes the Rogers Bar Campground. The Colville Tribes Emergency Services requests evacuees go to the Inchelium Community Center and check in. If they need a shelter, a place to stay overnight will be arranged at or near the Community Center. 

The Fruitland area in Stevens County is also on a level 1 evacuation order.

In order to promote public safety, the Colville Tribes Emergency Services has instituted several road closures with limited entry for the Williams Flats Fire area. The restrictions will allow firefighters to work safely along Silver Creek Road and elsewhere in advance of the fire. Traffic control points are being established at:
-The junction of Silver Creek Road and Ninemile-Hellgate Road, also known as the “Four Corners”;
-The junction of Olds Creek Road and the Ninemile-Frosty Meadows Road; and
-The junction of Silver Creek Road and Kuehne Road.

Only residents will be allowed through the control points to their residences within the affected areas. If the fire approaches Silver Creek Road, or if smoke restricts visibility to the point that firefighters are at risk, only fire and other emergency vehicles will be allowed through the traffic control points.

If stopped and asked to turn around by Tribal employees at a traffic control point, please remember that they are trying to keep you and the firefighters working along the roads safe.

Currently 1,133 firefighters have been assigned to the blaze including 43 engines, 15 dozers and 31 water tenders. Eight aircraft are also assigned to the fire.

Helicopters are dipping and fire boss planes are scooping from nearby Lake Roosevelt for suppression efforts and need space to work. The public is asked to avoid these aircraft activity areas on the water. The area is being patrolled by the the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Law Enforcement.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) of 10 miles surrounds the Williams Flats and Lundstrom Fires. The area is required for the large aircraft to safely maneuver when dropping retardant. Please refer to the Notice to Airmen before flying near the area.