Newhalem, Diablo residents safe – Goodell Creek fire continues to burn

Seattle City Light has evacuated the company town of Diablo and reduced staffing at Newhalem to essential workers, as a lightning-sparked forest fire continues to burn out of control in the North Cascades National Park.

Fire crews are on watch to protect the Gorge Powerhouse, the closest facility to the active fire. The utility has scheduled a helicopter to aid with inspections of other infrastructure. The only significant damage so far is the loss of a local power line and a fiber-optic cable.

Our displaced workers and their families are currently sheltered in the nearby town of Concrete, and in hotels and shelters in Wenatchee and Brewster. No one has been injured. In total, we’ve relocated 13 employees from Diablo, and another 11 from Newhalem. About 49 people remain on site.

Though all the Skagit generation facilities and transmission lines have been taken off line, we maintain remote control of the dams. City Light has enough power from purchases already planned ahead of time, so our customers should not be affected by the fires. We are also in touch with the appropriate regulators, and have not experienced any electric system reliability issues as a result of this incident

The Goodell Creek fire started on Aug. 10 and spread to the woods near the Skagit Hydroelectric project on Wednesday.

City Light operates three dams and powerhouses at the Ross, Diablo and Gorge reservoirs. In 2014, these facilities produced about 20 percent of the power consumed by our customers.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.