Washington: Colockum Tarps Fire

(UPDATE at 7:35 p.m. PDT, July 30, 2013)

The Colockum Tarps Fire continued to spread to the south Tuesday, and according to the incident management team has now burned 59,316 acres.

In the map of the fire below, the red squares represent heat detected by a satellite during the day on Tuesday. The red line was the perimeter at 1 a.m. Tuesday. Despite the appearance of some of the red squares, the fire has not crossed the Columbia River.

Map of Colockum Fire at 2:25 p.m. PDT July 30, 2013
Map of Colockum Fire,  July 30, 2013 (click to enlarge)

About three miles southwest of the fire is a new wind farm with hundreds of wind generators. It is under a “level 2” evacuation notice, which is the next level before Get Out NOW. The fire is moving in that direction but the vegetation in the area is fairly light and firefighters are hopeful that the facilities will not be too difficult to protect. They had structure protection personnel checking it out Tuesday evening. (I wonder how retardant would affect the wind generators?)

Hotshot crews were transported by boats on the Columbia River to their assignments on the south side of the fire Tuesday.

Single engine air tankers are working the fire along with helicopters and one of the DC-10s, which is reloading at Moses Lake.

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(UPDATE at 7:40 a.m. PDT, July 30, 2013)

We have a more accurate map of the Colockum Tarps Fire, which, according to our sources, has burned approximately 46,000 acres, or 72 square miles. The fire is still active and continues to spread on the west and south sides. Information about evacuations can be found on InciWeb.

Map of Colockum Fire at 1 a.m. PDT July 30, 2013
Map of Colockum Fire at 1 a.m. PDT July 30, 2013 (click to enlarge)

Carl Buick explained to us, with a visual aid, how the Colockum Tarps Fire got its name. It started near Colockum Creek and the next drainage over is Tarpiscan creek. The initial attack operations were first set up at the road junction seen below.

Colockum Tarps Fire
Photo near the origin of the Colockum Tarps Fire. Photo by Carl Buick

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(UPDATE at 7:24 p.m. PDT, July 29, 2013)

Map of Colockum Fire at 11:56 a.m. PDT July 29, 2013
Map of Colockum Fire, showing heat detected by a satellite at 11:56 a.m. PDT July 29, 2013. The location of the squares representing heat can be as much as a mile in error. (click to enlarge)

The map of the Colockum Tarps Fire at 11:56 a.m. PDT July 29 shows that since the previous map below at 4:13 a.m. PDT, the fire was active and spreading on the west and southwest sides.

Some maps have been placed on InciWeb that state the fire was 15,630 acres at 7 p.m. July 28. Our very rough estimate has it well over 30,000 acres at 11:56 a.m. Monday.

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Colockum Tarps Fire 6:21 p.m. July 28, 2013.
Colockum Tarps Fire as seen from Wenatchee at 6:21 p.m. July 28, 2013. Photo by Carl Buick. (click to enlarge)

A fire with a strange name, Colockum Tarps, has burned more than 10,000 acres in central Washington since it started early Saturday morning. The fire began south of Malaga and spread an additional 13 miles south along the west banks of the Columbia River west of Quincy. Winds gusting up to 15 mph on Sunday affected the fire, pushing it from brush and grass into some timber in the higher elevations to the west.

Firefighters estimated that by 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 28 the fire had exceeded 7,000 to 10,000 acres. Our rough estimates using the information recorded by a heat-sensing satellite (see the map below) are that it had burned 20,000 to 30,000 acres by 4:13 a.m. PDT Monday.

Map of Colockum Tarps Fire at 4:13 a.m. PDT July 29, 2013
Map showing heat detected by a satellite on the Colockum Tarps Fire at 4:13 a.m. PDT July 29, 2013. The location of the squares representing heat can be up to a mile in error. (click to enlarge)

A Type 3 Incident Management Organization lead by Lonnie Click assumed command of the fire at 6 a.m. Monday.

The Chelan County Sheriff issued a Level 3 evacuation notification for approximately 60 residences along Colockum, Tarpiscan, and Kingsbury Roads. Three primary residences and additional outbuildings burned.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Monday predicts 77 degrees, variable winds at 5 to 10 mph, relative humidity of 23 percent, and 20 to 25 percent cloud cover. The near-real-time weather can be monitored at the Okawen weather station southwest of Wenatchee.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

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