State Route 20 is back open this afternoon between Newhalem and the Silver Star campground. The Washington State Department of Transportation reopened the road Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.
It’s been closed since Saturday because of the Sourdough and Blue Lake Fires. And it could close again with little notice because those fires remain active.
State DOT said a pilot car will escort drivers along a four-mile stretch from Rainy Pass to the Blue Lake Trailhead parking lot.
The Sourdough fire has burned over 6,000 acres for nearly a month. As of Saturday, the fire is 16% contained and officials have once again closed State Route 20.
The lack of substantial rainfall along with the steep terrain are the most pressing challenges for firefighters. The dry brush provides fuel for the flames while the steep hills make it difficult to dig fire lines.
Drivers are not allowed to stop or pull over on the road because fire crews are still actively working near the roadway and monitoring containment lines.
As of Friday, officials said the Blue Lake Fire is currently estimated at 555 acres and is 32% contained.
The National Park Service has also closed camping, trailheads, overlooks, pullouts, and other recreation east of Newhalem due to fire activity. There is no access to North Cascades National Park and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area from the Bridge Creek trailhead or via Blue Lake, Maple Pass, or Twisp Pass.
Officials said there are no reroutes for the Pacific Crest Trail at this time. Additional details about trail, area, and camp closures are available on the North Cascades National Park Service complex website and the U.S. Forest Service alerts website.
If SR 20 closes again, people can use I-90, US 2, and 12 for east-west travel across the state.
The Sourdough Fire started with a lightning strike on July 29 near Diablo in the steep and rugged terrain of Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
The Blue Lake Fire began on Aug. 15, around 20 miles west of Winthrop on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. A cause has not been determined at this time.
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