Strong winds Monday night pushed the Cedar Creek Fire to the edge of Mazama, where crews scrambled to protect the Mazama fire station and other structures.
Level 3 evacuation notices were issued for much of the area around Mazama.
The Level 3 (get out now) notices were issued for the area on the Highway 20 side of the Methow River from the Mazama entrance (Lost River Road) east toward Winthrop to the Mazama Bible Camp Road.
A Red Cross Shelter was set up at the Methow Valley Elementary School in Winthrop.
By Tuesday morning, the Cedar Creek Fire had grown to almost 8,500 acres. The fire management team said they did not yet have reports on any lost structures.
Mark Rapp with the fire’s incident management team said this morning that strong, steady winds started pushing the fire about 10 p.m. Monday.
“The wind did grab the fire and took it and pushed it over the top (of a ridge) and pushed it toward the Mazama fire station,” Rapp said in a Tuesday morning briefing. “Last night we had to rustle up some resources in the middle of the night.”
He said by this morning things had improved and today firefighters are planning burnout work and dozer lines.
“It’s ever-changing and somewhat dynamic at this point, with the current weather we have and the winds that are predicted. This thing is going to continue to march along this landscape here,” Rapp said.
With the increased fire activity, the closure points of the North Cascades Highway were expanded by five miles Monday.
The Washington State Department of Transportation said there is no estimated time for reopening the highway, which has been closed since July 12 after a lightning storm ignited several nearby fires.