CHELAN, Wash. — Fire crews on the south shore of Lake Chelan laid dozer lines and burnouts Friday evening to protect pockets of homes on the south shore of Lake Chelan near the Lake Chelan Yacht Club.

Air tankers also dropped lines of fire retardant along the north and west sides of the First Creek Fire on Friday afternoon to help slow the advance of the blaze. In addition, helicopter water drops were used to protect structures.

“The good news,” said fire spokesman Wayne Patterson, “is that those efforts seem to be paying off. At this moment, the homes are better protected.”

The not-so-good news, he said, is that the 2,293-acre fire is still burning aggressively in a two-mile stretch along a ridgeline above the lakeshore. Winds on Saturday afternoon are expected to shift to the southeast, which could push the fire back towards populated areas.

Firefighters using bulldozers continued through Saturday he said to dig fire lines around south-shore homes, Patterson said.

Fire officials weren’t sure of the total number of homes in the area, which remains under Level 3 (get out now) evacuation orders, but a house-to-house check of 45 homes on Friday found “10 to 11 of the homes still occupied by folks who chose to stay,” regardless of the Level 3 notices. “We told them to leave for their own safety.”

The highest-level evacuation orders also remained in effect for areas in the Wolverine Fire, including Holden Village, Lucerne, Domke Lake, Riddle and Lightning creek drainages.

A high-pressure dome moving over North Central Washington on Saturday is expected to calm strong winds that had concerned fire officials on the Reach Fire (Chelan Complex) and Okanogan Complex through Friday evening.

Patterson said those northwest winds are likely to lessen and shift to the southeast Saturday afternoon as the high-pressure dome settles over the area.

“That’s good news for crews fighting most of the fires in the area,” said Patterson. “The wind shift should be favorable everywhere except for the First Creek Fire.”

On Friday, stiff winds led firefighters to change their approach battling the Reach Fire blazes.

Teams divided up the First Creek Fire on Lake Chelan’s south shore into three regions, each overseen by a different fire commander, the better to monitor trouble spots and keep local residences secure, said fire team spokesman Kale Casey.

“During this time, our biggest goal is just to hold what we have,” said Casey, noting the First Creek containment remains at just 2 percent.

“We’ve seen some fire growth off in the northwest corner, and they’ve been working that hard with aerial support and putting in handline,” he said.

[by Mike Irwin and Jefferson Robbins – Wenatchee World]

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