PORT ANGELES — A brush fire near Lake Sutherland is continuing to burn, with more than 108 acres consumed.
There were 150 personnel and three helicopters combating the fire Monday, according to Josie Williams, public information officer with the Western Washington Type 3 Incident Management Team — the interagency group that assumed control of firefighting efforts earlier in the morning.
“They’ve been really aggressively working, doing some good progress,” Williams said. “It is in a very steep, rugged area, meaning it’s going to be mostly ground support that gets in there.”
The fire was first reported at 1:15 p.m. Saturday near the Joyce Access Road in Indian Valley near Granny’s Cafe. Four homes had been under a voluntary Level 2 evacuation warning — be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice — but Williams said the warning had been downgraded to Level 1 as of Monday.
Level 1 evacuation orders advise that fires are in the area, Williams said, and urge homeowners to monitor for increased fire danger.
Williams said no containment numbers were available, but the downgrading of evacuation orders indicated that crews were “getting a handle on this.”
There are no road closures in the area, although authorities are asking that passersby do not stop along the roadway to watch or take photos. Williams said a temporary flight restriction was in place over the area which included planes and drone flights.
Stopping along the roadside can be dangerous for motorists and fire crews, Williams said, and flights in the area — including drones — can interfere with air operations.
“This is just the start of the fire season. We have a lot of summer left,” Williams said. “We haven’t had a lot of rain. We’re short on rain for the Northwest. We want people to really consider how they can make their homes and area safe.”
The National Weather Service forecasted showers of less than a tenth of an inch Monday afternoon and Tuesday, and air quality in Port Angeles remained good.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state Department of Natural Resources, Williams said.
According to DNR’s wildfire danger map, all of the Olympic Peninsula excluding Olympic National Park is currently experiencing moderate wildfire danger. Earlier this month, both Clallam and Jefferson counties enacted burn bans that run until late September. Both counties enacted bans earlier than expected due to dry weather.
Burn bans apply to all outdoor burning except recreational fires used for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, warmth, cooking or similar purposes. Recreational fires are permitted unless further banned by extreme weather conditions. Propane weed burners are not allowed.
Recreational fires are limited to 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height. Fires for debris disposal are not legal under any circumstances and are not considered recreational under the state administrative code.
Recreational fires may be banned if DNR’s fire danger is upgraded to high, with exceptions for Olympic National Park and other controlled campgrounds.