The Norse Peak Fire as seen from the Cougar Valley trail head. Courtesy photo

Weekend weather helped fight pair of mountain fires

The past weekend’s cooler, sometimes drizzly weather brought welcome relief for wildland firefighters who were struggling to control the Norse Peak and Sawmill Creek fires. Both are near state Route 410 not all that many miles from Enumclaw; they continued to burn early this week, but fire crews had made progress in key areas.

Wildfires in the mountains above Enumclaw have remained the talk of the town.

That’s what happens when skies turn gray, highways close, folks are forced to abandon their homes and the Enumclaw Expo Center is turned into a tent city for first responders.

The past weekend’s cooler, sometimes drizzly weather brought welcome relief for wildland firefighters who were struggling to control the Norse Peak and Sawmill Creek fires. Both are near state Route 410 not all that many miles from Enumclaw; they continued to burn early this week, but fire crews had made progress in key areas.

The Norse Peak blaze, as of Monday morning, had consumed nearly 50,000 acres of rugged wilderness. According to government websites, there were 600 firefighters involved. Friday afternoon, efforts to control the fire were turned over to a response team from California; they replaced a crew from Florida that was heading home to help with hurricane relief.

By Monday, the Norse Peak Fire had been split into two zones to help with the management of resources. The dividing line is the Pacific Crest Trail, which also serves as the line between Pierce and Yakima counties.

The lightning-caused fire originated on the eastern flank of the Cascades, but spread uphill and crested the mountain peaks. Flames crept too close for comfort, prompting a Level 3 evacuation of Crystal Mountain Resort, nearby campgrounds and homes in the immediate area.

As of Monday morning, the Norse Peak fire was listed as 12 percent contained. The primary focus by firefighters was to keep things under control along SR 410 while protecting structures in the area. A Sunday updated noted “the fire continued slowly creeping toward the structures” in the Crystal Mountain, Gold Hill and Silver Springs areas.

The Sawmill Creek Fire, as of Sunday, had spread to almost 850 acres. The fire, which started Sept. 4 northeast of Greenwater, was being fought by 360 firefighters, 20 fire engines and three dozers. Sunday’s report showed there had been no injuries and no structures had been burned.

On Monday, fire containment was listed as “zero,” although the weekend news was heartening. Light rain, lower temperatures and higher humidity allowed crews to make headway.

A Southern California team had arrived to take over the firefighting effort Saturday morning.

In Enumclaw, the Department of Natural Resources used the Enumclaw Expo Center as a staging area. Scott Gray, director of the Expo Center, said there were 100 firefighters initially on site, but the number was expected to increase to 500 during the weekend. Fire crews are an experienced bunch, he said, noting that restrooms, shower facilities and dining accommodations were delivered to the site.

More in News

Man pleads not guilty to rape of local teen

Errol Leon Vanpevenage, Jr., admitted to knowing the 17-year old was underage, and allegedly threatened her and her family if she broke off contact.

‘Activity backpacks’ for exploring state parks to be available at your local library

There are several guidelines to make checking out the backpacks a smooth process.

Repercussions could come to law enforcement who refuse I-1639, AG says

‘State and local law enforcement must uphold Washington law.’

Winter weather brings another delay to Buckley light project

Work is now expected for Feb. 21 at the Mundy Loss intersection, followed by Main Street on Feb. 26, and Park Avenue on Feb. 27.

Sharing the love this Valentine’s Day

Crestwood Elementary student Kinzi Hansen organized a Valentines Box drive so every elementary student in her school district could celebrate the holiday.

Enumclaw Community Creator contest winners announced

Escuela de la Vida: A Spanish Language Series, and Community Connections: An Interest-Based Connections Board, were the two programs funded by the new competition.

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, activists fight youth incarceration in King County

No New Youth Jail Coalition members send Valentines to King County officials asking them to reconsider funding priorities

Buckley Hall to host Pierce County “history day”

Come learn about your area nearly two dozen historical societies.

In Buckley, more storage units on 410, beer and wine downtown

Wood, Wine, & Whimsy got their alcohol license Feb. 12.

Most Read