KELLER - The Northwest Interagency Management Team currently fighting the Williams Flats and Lundstrom Butte fires on the Hellgate Game Reserve south of Keller on the Colville Reservation has reported a drone shut down air attack operations yesterday.
A release from the team states, "The incursion caused all firefighting related aircraft –helicopters, Fire Bosses and large retardant planes to suspend operations and return to the airport. The suspension of aerial firefighting operations continued until a verification could be made that the drone had left the area. During the suspension, no aerial support was provided to the firefighters on the ground, and the fire was allowed to burn unchecked. Any person(s) identified flying a drone or UAS in a TFR could be subject to a $20,000 fine. Remember, 'IF YOU FLY, WE CAN’T.'"
As of 9 p.m. last night, the Williams Flats fire, the larger of the two fires, was reported as 18,000 acres and was 25 percent contained.
Below is the report from the team:
Williams Flats Fire
Current Fire Information: The Williams Flats Fire is burning on Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Washington Department of Natural Resources protected lands. Today, firefighters worked to reestablish a safe anchor point for fireline construction on the northeast flank. The fire continued to burn to the Whitestone Ridge on the southeast flank of the Williams Flats Fire. Line construction is on-going and additional resources were moved into this area to assist in securing the southeast flank. Containment lines on the west flank have tied into the NineMile Road with portions of the line being determined as secure and placed in patrol status. Dozers worked to construct direct fire line toward the fire’s northeast corner. Firefighters were supported with water and retardant drops constantly throughout the day. The Structure Protection Group is monitoring structures and prepared to respond if necessary.
A night shift will be on the fire securing, improving and holding the northwest flank.
Challenges firefighters are facing include very high temperatures; active fire behavior; reduced visibility; steep, rocky terrain and wildlife dangers in the form of snakes and bears.
Lundstrom Butte Fire
Acreage: 10 – Final amount of fire area
Current Fire Information: Securing of containment lines is complete. The fire has been put into patrol status.
Resources: Total personnel assigned – 803: 8-type 1 hand crews, 6-type 2 IA hand crews, 8-type 2 hand crews, 5-heavy helicopters, 3- medium helicopters, 1-light helicopter, 17-engines, 11-dozers, 1-masticator, 3- skidgenes, and 22-water tenders. Additional firefighting resources continue to arrive.
Weather: Tonight, the skies will be mostly clear with areas of smoke. Temperatures will drop to around 63 degrees with relative humidity of 33%. Winds will be west/northwesterly at 3-5 mph.
Air Quality: For the latest information regarding smoke and air quality see https://wasmoke.blogspot.com
Closures and Evacuations: There is a Level 1 Evacuation order was issued today by the Colville Tribes Emergency Services and the Ferry County Sheriff’s Office for residences on the east of the fire. For a full description see the Colville Tribes Emergency Services Facebook page. One residence remains under a Level 2 evacuation (Goat/Hellgate Ranch). Multiple roads are closed to public including: Kuehne, NineMile Hellgate, Refrigerator Canyon, and Canteen Creek Roads. Closures are in place to provide safety to the firefighters and the public, so please respect those closures.
Helicopters are dipping and fire boss planes are scooping from nearby Lake Roosevelt for suppression efforts and need space to work. The public is asked to avoid these aircraft activity areas on the water. The area is being patroled by the the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Law Enforcement.
A Temporary Flight Restriction of 10 miles surrounds the Williams Flats and Lundstrom Fires. The area is required for the large aircraft to safely manuever when dropping retardant. Please refer to the Notice to Airmen before flying near the area.