OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A stubborn wildfire at Lake Crescent may take longer to extinguish than previously expected, a spokesman for the team managing firefighting efforts said Saturday.
The East Beach Road Fire, believed to be human-caused, stood at 65 acres on a steep slope above East Beach Road on the north side of the lake in Olympic National Park land. As of Saturday morning, it was listed as 15 percent contained.
Nick Cronquist, public information officer for the Western Washington Type 3 Incident Management Team, which is coordinating firefighting efforts, said terrain is hindering fire suppression.
“Due to the steepness and the grade, it’s going to be a longer fire than I think a lot of people expected,” he said from a command center and fire camp set up at Crescent School in nearby Joyce.
“But we’re looking at full suppression so we’re trying to put a line around this thing and make sure it can’t go anywhere when we do wrap it up,” he said.
Cronquist said nine hand crews were at the fire line with a total of 205 people working to contain the blaze. In addition, six fire engines, two fire tenders, three helicopters and two fallers are battling the blaze.
There was no estimate from Cronquist on how long it would take to establish full containment.
The East Beach Road Fire was discovered Wednesday afternoon on a south-facing slope above the road within the boundary of Olympic National Park. Driven by a strong breezes, it quickly spread into heavy timber and dense undergrowth.
Cause of the fire remains unknown, but is believed to have been human-caused.
On Saturday morning, dense smoke could be seen on the hillside a quarter of a mile east of Log Cabin Resort, which remained open to guests.
“The fire is growing to the north northeast, but the good part is that it’s moving away from the homes and the lake,” Cronquist said. “So it’s going up the hill and over and possibly out of the park into (state Department of Natural Resources) land. We’re trying to access from the DNR side on some old timber roads and find a way to put a box around this whole thing.”
Crews were attempting to find ways to run water lines to portions of the wildfire while helicopters have been making water drops on hot spots since Thursday morning, Cronquist said.
Agencies working on fire management include Olympic National Park, the state Department of Natural Resources, Olympic Interagency Fire Management and the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
East Beach Road is closed from U.S. Highway 101 to Log Cabin Resort. Access to East Beach Road between U.S. Highway 101 and Log Cabin Resort is for local residents only. Log Cabin Resort is still operating and anyone trying to gain access to Log Cabin Resort will need to take Hwy 112 to Piedmont Road. Day use recreation sites along East Beach Road in Olympic National Park are closed to the public at this time.
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