Electric City, Wash., -- Nearly 150 firefighters worked in winds gusting to 40 miles per hour yesterday attempting to corral the 29,000-acre Barker Canyon Fire Complex that was started by lightning Saturday night, September 8, at two spots – one approximately 13 miles northwest of Electric City, called the Leahy Fire, and the other along the north shore of Banks Lake, called the Barker Canyon Fire. The fires were combined into one complex on Monday night.
The fires from both starts burned in easterly directions, driven by a dry cold front, yesterday and last night, crossing dozer lines that were created along Smith Road and Highway 174 near its junction with Rex Road near Strahl Canyon. The fire continues to burn in the forested, rocky, steep canyons along the Columbia River north of Black Lake. Two strike teams of engines worked through the night in attempts to contain the fire along Smith Road.
A Level 2 evacuation order is in place today for the entire fire area east of Leahy Junction, north to the Columbia River and south to Sims Corner. State Highway 174 is closed from Leahy Junction to Coulee Dam.
There is no estimated containment for the fire at this time.
Today, the fire is burning hot and slowly along the steep, rocky slopes of the Columbia River directly south of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. The fire has jumped the river in several spots, engaging Tribal firefighting forces from Mount Tolman into the fight.
The firefighting strategy today, according to Larry Nickey, incident commander for the Washington Interagency Incident Management Team, is to secure existing fire lines, burn out unburned fuels that can help further the spread north or east, and protect structures.
The Dougls County fire marshal is inspecting the burned-over area for any lost structures. At this time, an unconfirmed three structures have been destroyed by the fire.
Today, State Highway 174 is closed at the Leahy Junction. Traffic will be detoured at the intersection SR 17 to Highway 2 outside Coulee City. The closure will be in effect all day today and be re-evaluated by the Douglas County Sheriff later today.