Wolverine fire brings smoke throughout area, threat to wilderness communities, and closure of part of Pacific Crest Trail.
The wildfire iburning near the village of Stehekin, a summertime destination at the wilderness end of the Central Washington’s Lake Chelan, has forced closure of the popular Pacific Crest Trail near there. Yet the town of Chelan, 50 miles away at the southeast end of the lake, is bearing the brunt of the thick smoke which comes at the height of the tourist season.
Hotels and businesses in both Stehekin and in and around the town of Chelan, where the winds have carried the thick smoke, remain open.
However, the Wolverine fire— now estimated at 24,480 acres as of Monday evening — forced the evacuation of several hundred people from the community of Holden Village, a retreat center near Stehekin, and a nearby mine on the weekend. Areas on the south shore of Lake Chelan also may be evacuated.
The Lodge at Stehekin, the biggest business in the little village of Stehekin, is open, said reservations manager Charlene Green in a Monday afternoon phone call. And, although the wildfire is much closer to Stehekin, the town of Chelan is much smokier, she said.
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“The wind is blowing from west to east and the smoke’s going down toward Chelan. We haven’t had the issues they’ve had to deal with,” said Green. Still, she’s fielded many phone calls and some people are canceling reservations at the lodge, she said, and rolling their deposits over to next year.
People traveling on the Lady of the Lake passenger-boat service or private boats toward Stehekin (there are no roads to either Holden or Stehekin) can see the fire blazing, according to theOkanogan-Wenatchee National Forest:
“Smoke is visible throughout the Lake Chelan corridor, including downtown (Chelan) and in Stehekin, but all businesses remain open and are welcoming visitors,” said its website. “Boaters and Lady of the Lake passengers will be able to see active fire including individual and group tree torching. Please stay clear of firefighter activity and remain a safe distance away from the shoreline in the vicinity of the fire.”
A public meeting will be held Monday afternoon in Stehekin about the fire threat; firefighters were assessing the conditions around the community Monday.
For hikers and backpackers on the Pacific Crest Trail, the trail is closed heading into Holden Village and out of Stehekin. Here’s the word from the Chelan Ranger District on the trail closure:
“Northbound hikers will be rerouted out Suiattle River Trail (#784) to Suiattle River Road and can shuttle up Highway 20 to Rainy Pass and reconnect with the PCT. The Detour is CLOSED southbound in Stehekin at the Harlequin Bridge/Stehekin River Road. Southbound hikers will need to backtrack or take the Lady of the Lake into Chelan. Hikers are advised to contact the National Park Service office in Stehekin or theForest Service office in Chelan for information. Additional trail and area closures are expected in this area due to fire conditions.”