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Tacoma’s watershed still in danger but cooler weather gives firefighters a break

Cooler weather is giving a punch in the gut to Washington wildfires Saturday.

“It’s been pretty quiet the last 24 hours,” said Heather Appelhof, a spokeswoman on the Norse Peak Fire for the U.S. Forest Service.

The nearly month-old fire is now 12 percent contained. Saturday’s tally had 49,997 acres burned.

More crews and engines arrived on Saturday. There are 402 personnel working the fire.

“We’re definitely taking advantage of the colder temperatures and higher humidity to secure more of the fire line,” Appelhof said. “We’re always worried about the winds but we were able to hold on to everything we had.”

Another cold front was expected Saturday afternoon. But this one is going to be drier with winds up to 25 miles per hour.

The reprieve might not last. High pressure will begin to build into the area Sunday through Tuesday bringing warm and dry air.

The Washington National Guard is aiding firefighters by providing security and aiding fire crews on the line. Additional resources have been requested, fire officials said.

Here are updates on three regional fires.

NORSE PEAK FIRE: Crews worked the fire down to state Route 410. They also removed vegetation and established hand lines in Goat Creek and Silver Creek areas to provide better structure protection for homes. Sprinklers have been set up in and around Crystal Mountain and Gold Hill.

SAWMILL CREEK FIRE (848 acres, 0 percent containment): The fire burned throughout the Sawmill Ridge area northeast of Greenwater Saturday. Firefighters worked to get a line around the fire.

The fire continues to threaten the watershed for the City of Tacoma, timberland, DNR protected lands, and Forest Service lands.

AMERICAN FIRE (1,952 acres): Structure protection measures are in place along Bumping River Road from the lake to Ira Ford Lane. Firefighters worked their way north Saturday.

The fire has crested the American Ridge but is hung up on the east side. No growth has been seen since Friday.

CLOSURES: State Route 410 will remain closed from state Route 123 to east of Bumping River Road. Bumping River Road is closed.

Crystal Mountain Boulevard is closed.

The Pacific Crest Trail closure is closed from White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass.

Closure notices for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Fire can be found at fs.usda.gov/alerts/okawen/alerts-notices.

Closure notices for Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest can be found at fs.usda.gov/alerts/mbs/alerts-notices.

The White River entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park is closed. Updates for the park can be found at nps.gov/mora/index.htm.

EVACUATIONS: In Pierce County, a Level 3 evacuation (which means leave now) has been ordered for the Silver Springs Campground, Silver Creek, Deep Creek, Goat Creek, Alta Community, Pick Handle Basin, Gold Hill Community and the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort area.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor

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