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Sourdough Mountain wildfire rages on


Blaze grows to 30 acres, nears historic dam in North Cascades National Park

By Nolan Baker

On Saturday, July 29, a wildfire ignited on Sourdough Mountain, just north of popular hiking destination Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park. As of Wednesday, August 2, the fire continues to burn through steep, inaccessible terrain along Sourdough Ridge, growing from 25 to 30 acres just between August 1 and 2, according to the National Park Service.

A fixed-wing aircraft drops flame retardant on the Sourdough Mountain fire at North Cascades National Park on July 31. (Photo courtesy Tara Nelson)

The fire, which has not been determined to be manmade, is currently ripping through thick timber understory, creeping down the steep ridge towards the historic Diablo Lake hydroelectric dam, making it difficult to combat by ground crews.

According to InciWeb, an interagency incident management system used to monitor wildfires, 132 personnel are assigned to combat the fire, including four helicopters and six Fire Boss scooper planes to drop water and fire retardants on the growing blaze.

During weekend firefighting efforts, all aerial operations were forced to stop for 45 minutes due to unauthorized drone usage in the area. Katy Hooper, deputy chief of visitor services for the North Cascades National Park Service, said it’s imperative for visitors to not hinder the jobs of firefighters.

“I don’t know how often [aerial crews] had to stop, but I do know it’s a continued issue,” Hooper said of recreational drone use during wildfires. “Utilizing that aerial support is key.”

Hooper also asked park visitors to always be aware of closures around the park before entering. The fire closures page on the NPS website always has updated information on accessibility. As of Wednesday, August 1, the Sourdough Mountain Trail, Sourdough and Pierce Mountain camps and Gorge Lake Campground are closed due to the current fire.

If you or anyone in your party sees smoke or flames, dial 911 or report the fire to a park visitor or information center. Hooper also said it’s imperative for visitors of the park to always obey traffic laws, even if you miss out on a photo opportunity.

“SR20 is not being impacted, there are no [road] closures, but folks have been stopping alongside the road, doing illegal turnarounds and that sort of thing,” Hooper said. “Keep traveling down SR20, don’t stop and take pictures. Adhere to speed limits.”    x