Varden/Cedar/Delancy Fire – Tuesday: Smoke impacting air quality

Varden Fire

Smoke rises from Okanogan County forest fires. Courtesy: Northwest Type II Interagency Incident Management Team #8

MAZAMA, Wash. — Forest fires in Okanogan County as well as other, newer fires are adding to the smoke in the air in central and eastern Washington.

The U.S. Forest Service reports the Varden Fire and the Cedar Fire grew over the last two days. They started with lightning strikes from a July 8 thunderstorm.

The smoke is staying mostly aloft but will stick around. The Methow Valley has had air quality of “Moderate” to “Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups.” Expect more smoke later this week.

TRACK THE SMOKE: Washington Smoke Blog update

The Varden Fire, located approximately 5.5 miles west of Mazama on the south side of SR 20 North Cascades Highway, is believed to have burned more than 1,000 acres of timber.

Crews continue are using a highway closure from Silver Star Creek to the Cedar Creek trailhead as a base of operations for burnouts close to the road and clearing dead trees.

The highway is closed approximately 20 miles west of Winthrop between Silver Star and Early Winters. There is no estimated time for reopening.

RELATED: SR 20 to remain closed for several days as crews respond to wildfire near Winthrop

Varden Fire

Northwest Type II Interagency Incident Management Team #8

The Cedar Creek Fire, located southwest of Mazama, is estimated at 175 acres. A containment line is being built along the base of Sandy Butte toward Lucky Jim Bluff.

The Delancy Fire, located roughly 10 miles west of Mazama, north of State Route 20, and has not grown.

Northwest Type II Interagency Incident Management Team is now managing this incident. Expect an update from them here in the evening.

MAP: Varden/Cedar/Delancy Fire

A Fire Weather Watch has been issued for the area for Wednesday and Thursday. Expect very dry and breezy-to-windy conditions: 15-25 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph and relative humidity as low as 10%.

“New fires could spread rapidly. Heed all fire restrictions. Use caution with fire triggers (grills, cars, campfires, etc.),” USFS warns.

Campfires are prohibited throughout the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, including developed campgrounds and wilderness areas.

LOCAL WEATHER: Fire danger increasing mid-week with gusts up to 35 MPH -Kristin

Okanogan County Emergency Management reports Level 1 Advisory remains in effect for the Mazama and Lost River areas.