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Washington Fire Spreads Away From Markleeville

Richard Harvey

Richard Harvey

6:40 p.m. - Firefighters continue to make progress on the Washington Fire. As of late Thursday afternoon, containment stood at 15 percent. Crews remain focused on keeping the fire away from the community of Markleeville.

The acreage burned has been recalculated to 16,490. An additional 51 personnel are now working the incident, bringing the total to 951, according to the U.S. Forest Service InciWeb incident report.

The report also states that the projected activity for fire crews is to: "Continue to increase containment levels securing the perimeter of the fire. Keep fire from spreading further with incoming thunderstorms over the weekend."

0625-washington-fire-map-rUpdated fire map: 1:38 p.m., June 25, 2015


12:50 p.m. - Firefighters continue to make progress on the Washington Fire, which started 8 miles south of Markleeville in Alpine County.

But record high temperatures, along with thunderstorms and lightning are a worry.

The lightning-caused wildfire, which was spotted June 19, has burned 17,205 acres and is 10 percent contained.

Denise Alonzo with the U.S. Forest Service said controlled burns Wednesday helped "clean up some of the fire line."

"Those activities were successful in order to prevent the fire from spreading further if we do get some of those erratic winds that are expected in the fire area Friday and Saturday," said Alonzo, who normally works in the Sequoia National Forest. "We’re continuing our efforts to put line around the fire and get full containment on this fire, hopefully soon." 

More than 900 firefighters are trying to contain the fire in the Humboldt-Toyiabe National Forest. Crews are being assisted by twelve helicopters and three air tankers, which are dropping retardant and water, while also moving equipment, supplies, and firefighters.

0625-washington -fire -harvey -3

Richard Harvey

Alonzo said less retardant was dropped Wednesday because of the progress crews made constructing the fire line the past three days.

"We have firefighters all around the fire at this time and they are securing the perimeter, which means that they are stopping the spread of fire from going beyond where it is now, by putting in hand line and connecting those to rocky outcroppings where the fire can’t burn through," said Alonzo.

She said crews are working to secure the fire perimeter enough so that "it will hold through the next storm system," which is forecast to bring dry lightning and thunderstorms.

"We will keep the current staffing level and resources actively working on the fire through the weekend, but there is a concern for other fires that may be started in the area,"said Alonzo. "If that happens, some of our aircraft could be loaned to those new fires."

Alonzo said the fire has burned within three miles of Markleeville.

"The spread of the fire has been away from Markleeville in the last day or so," said Alonzo. "So, we’re feeling more and more confident, as we secure the perimeter of the fire, that we’re successfully going to be able to protect Markleeville."

She said Markleeville residents are still under an evacuation advisory issued by Alpine County Sherriff’s office. But no mandatory evacuations are in effect as of Thursday. 

She said Highways 4 and 89 in the Monitor and Ebbetts Pass areas remain closed through the weekend. 

0625-washington -fire -harvey -4-p

Richard Harvey

"In addition to the fire activity, we need to worry about our fire resources working along those roadways, as they continue to build the perimeter line around the fire and put out hotspots," said Alonzo. "Also with weather, you never know, you might get a downpour and then we have mud or debris flow from the burn  from the slopes down onto the road … so there’s multiple concerns that we have for the storm this weekend."   

Several campgrounds along Highway 4 south of Markleeville are closed and the Turtle Rock and Indian Creek campgrounds north of Markleeville remain closed.

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