North Cascades Highway reopens, Sourdough fire to burn ‘many more weeks’

Aug 22, 2023, 12:50 PM

north cascades highway fire...

While SR 20 is reopen, drivers are instructed not to stop in the area as the Sourdough fire continues to burn (Photo from WSDOT)

(Photo from WSDOT)

After being closed for more than a week, 45 miles of the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) appears set to reopen Wednesday at 8 a.m., the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) reported Tuesday.

The agency noted in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, they are working with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Incident Management Team to clear debris to reopen the road “for thru-travel only.”

When State Route 20 reopens, WSDOT said no stopping will be allowed as cars pass through, as fire crews are still in the area battling the blaze.

More on the Sourdough Fire: Smoke from the blaze reaches Seattle

All recreation areas in the Ross Lake area will remain closed, though, due to the Sourdough Fire.

The Sourdough Fire has burned nearly 6,000 acres and is 12% contained. The fire started in late July after a lightning strike.

Recently, Seattle City Light officials said the fire would likely burn for many more weeks as 300 firefighting personnel continue to slow the spread and protect structures in the area.

“This is far from over, and we’re doing our best to manage day-to-day operations and fire response while also looking ahead to how we will begin recovery efforts applying lessons learned and best practices.” said Mike Haynes, interim General Manager and CEO of Seattle City Light. “I want to recognize the many dozens of City Light staff members from across our divisions putting in long hours to make sure that our people and infrastructure are safe and secure.”

The transmission system servicing the Diablo and Ross dams was de-energized on Aug. 12, out of an abundance of caution.

Fire crews have also “wrapped” the historic Sourdough Fire Lookout and important structures at Ross Lake. Wrapping is when firefighters cover a building in a fire-resistant aluminum barrier.

Hikers will also not be able to access Sourdough Mountain, Diablo Lake, Big Beaver, and Little Beaver.

Fire teams say people flying drones have forced at least one water-dropping helicopter to have to stop working.

The DNR forcefully told residents in a post on X, Monday not to fly drones in near the fires.

More information regarding NPS closures can be found here.

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North Cascades Highway reopens, Sourdough fire to burn ‘many more weeks’