Crews make progress on Oden Road fire

A major fire burning near Okanogan has grown overnight but firefighters are beginning to make progress as they move toward containment.

The Department of Natural Resources said Sunday evening that the 8,400 acre Oden Road fire is 30% contained. Sunday was the first day firefighters were able to establish any kind of containment on the fire that is believed to be lightning caused.

Officials say the fire grew from 6,200 acres to 7,800 acres overnight Saturday into Sunday. Crews saw significant growth on the northwest and southwest corner of the fire, which is burning about five miles northwest of Okanogan along Highway 20 near Loop Loop Pass. A 30 mile stretch of Highway 20 remains closed on Sunday from Okanogan to Twisp.

Structure protection is still a priority as six strike teams were on standby to protect any homes or structures that were in the path of the fire. DNR estimates that some 200 homes are still under level two evacuations, meaning that homeowners can return to their homes but need to be ready to leave at a moments notice.

Two homes were lost to the fire on Saturday. Officials say one of the homes that burned was located on the Fox Mountain Ranch. In addition to the homes, officials say an old schoolhouse that dates back to the 1890’s was lost to the fire as well.

The fire had previously knocked out power to most of the Methow Valley, but as of Saturday afternoon power had been restored to all communities except Fox and Cook Mountain.

Sunday’s firefighting efforts were largely focused on an aerial attack in addition to establishing fire lines. According to DNR, two helicopters were fighting the fire with water and fire resistant powder. Two more helicopters were on standby as were four air tankers.

Officials say bulldozers will be working through the night into Monday to establish fire lines on the northwest side of the fire.

Firefighters from the Department of Natural Resources, Fire District 3, Riverside Fire and many other areas have been fighting the flames since Friday afternoon when the fire was listed at 500 acres. Officials expect to add more firefighters to the lines before Monday.

Fire crews are gathering at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds where a command post has been set up. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at Okanogan Middle School for those who have been evacuated.