Jackass Butte Fire Fully Contained

OKANOGAN, WA — Lightning caused a handful of fires around the Inland Northwest Tuesday night, including one in Okanogan County that swelled to over 1000 acres by Wednesday morning before crews had it fully contained by Wednesday afternoon.

That fire – dubbed the Jackass Butte Fire – started at about 5 p.m. Tuesday night just outside of the town of Okanogan and, aided by the wind, spread rapidly. According to information released from the Washington State Patrol, “approximately 12 people have been evacuated at the direction of local officials.”

However, Okanogan Sheriff Frank Rogers said that, as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the fire was 100 percent contained and crews were working on putting out the last remaining hot spots. He added that everyone has been allowed to return to their homes.

In addition to the dozen or so people that were told to head for safety, the Okanagon Bingo Casino was also evacuated Tuesday evening after flames jumped Highway 97 and crept towards the casino. The building was emptied, however firefighters were able to stamp out that small section of fire and the brief threat was alleviated.

Fire dispatchers in the county said Wednesday morning that the fire had grown to about 1000 acres, prompting a six mile stretch of Highway 97 to be sectioned off from Okanogan to the south.

The fire surrounded communications towers, and cut the main power transmitter into the Methow Valley. Subsequently, power was out in the area Tuesday night, and might not be restored until Wednesday night, Sheriff Rogers said.

Numerous agencies were helping fight the Jackass Butte fire, including state resources that were mobilized by Washington State Patrol Tuesday night.

Though crews had gotten the upper hand on the fire by Wednesday afternoon, shifting winds allowed it to spread rapidly in its early phase.

“The fire burned west, then the wind shifted and it headed east,” the Omak Chronicle reported
Tuesday night. “The wind also pushed the blaze north and farther east to the Cameron Lake Road area.”

Meanwhile fire crews got a handle on a fire in Grant County Tuesday night that briefly knocked out radio and telephone service to the area. The Grant County Sheriff’s Department said the fire is under control and all services are back up and running.

Firefighters responded to several other fires throughout the region, especially in northeast Washington, but most were knocked down before they spiraled out of control.

To view pictures from the Okanogan County fire, click here
. Or, for more wildfire information including maps that show all local and national fires currently being fought, visit our Firewatch