Chelan fire likely caused by ‘rogue lightning strike,’ now 80% contained

Jul 21, 2022, 7:58 AM | Updated: 9:31 am

wildfire, lake chelan...

Wildfire smoke near Lake Chelan. (Photo courtesy of Barb Simeona)

(Photo courtesy of Barb Simeona)

The Stayman Flats fire that forced people to leave their homes near Lake Chelan this week was likely started by a single, “rogue” lightning strike.

According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the National Weather Service reported a lightning strike around 5:00 a.m. Monday.

No one reported the fire until about nine hours after the strike.

The lightning hit near Stayman Flats Road, ground zero for the wildfire that spread to two square miles, five miles from the town of Chelan.

Weather service meteorologist Rocco Pelatti says the rogue strike came from the “anvil” — or top of a cloud.

DNR spokesman Ryan Rodruck said the cause likely would remain that way unless determined otherwise. About 37 homes remain threatened and under Level 1 evacuation orders, he said, with 125 people fighting the fire from land and air.

Chelan fire just ‘dress rehearsal’ for upcoming fire season, say experts

The fire is “burning in grass and brush in difficult terrain,” according to a Department of Natural Resources press release from Wednesday, and had grown from its 35 acres Monday.

“This operational period, crews will engage in direct attack on both flanks of the fire with the goal of securing and increasing containment,” the release stated. “Crews will also cold-trail the edges of the fire perimeter to prevent flare-ups. Multiple aircraft from Washington DNR will be on standby as needed by crews on the ground.”

With the fire now about 80% contained, most have been allowed to return home.

For up-to-the-minute evacuation information, visit co.chelan.wa.us/emergency-management/pages/active-emergencies.

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Chelan fire likely caused by ‘rogue lightning strike,’ now 80% contained