Fire crews hold Road 11 blaze southwest of Mansfield


MANSFIELD — Local firefighting teams and state responders were able to blunt the approach of the 10,000-acre Road 11 Fire as it burned northeast toward this small farm community overnight.

But the large-scale management team assuming control of the fire today said it’s likely to have an uphill fight, with tough terrain, windy conditions and homes and farms under threat.

The Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team officially took over command at 8 a.m. from Douglas County Fire District 1 Chief Dale Jordan, based in Waterville. The transition took place under a statewide mobilization requested by Jordan and approved by the Washington State Patrol and state fire marshal.

Washington Department of Natural Resources aircraft began water drops over the front line of the fire Saturday as it grew rapidly from 2,000 to roughly 10,000 acres after its 12:50 p.m. start. At one point, 10 aircraft were involved, but high afternoon winds prevented them from establishing a firm perimeter.

Satellite mapping shows hotspots from the Road 11 Fire, including its start point Saturday (far left) and its spread as of early Sunday (right). (Okanogan Highlands Fire Watch)

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office reported six outbuildings had burned and one home was damaged. Level 2 evacuation notices remained in place Sunday for the town of Mansfield and several surrounding homes.

The management team said Sunday local crews involved in the first day’s fight , including those from the main Douglas Country First Districts 1 and 5 , will be released to their home agencies as more state resources are brought to bear. They warned of a cold-weather system that could generate more of the unpredictable winds that whipped the brushfire Saturday through grass, sagebrush and cultivated wheat.

No containment level was announced Sunday. Key roads in the fire area remain closed, including Highway 172 from milepost 8 to 14 and McNeil Canyon Road at Highway 2. Fire managers urge the public to stay clear of the area.