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Updated: Sourdough Fire Likely to Burn for Many More Weeks

UPDATED: State Route 20 North Cascades Highway is open between Newhalem (milepost 120) and Silver Star campground (milepost 171).

From 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., a pilot car will escort travelers along a 4-mile stretch of highway from Rainy Pass (milepost 158) to the Blue Lake trailhead parking lot (milepost 162) for the next few days as fire crews continue working in the vicinity of the Blue Lake fire.

People should refrain from stopping along the highway. This remains an active fire area and the road is subject to close again with little notice based on fire behavior or fire mitigation strategies. People should plan for delays and unexpected closures and should be aware they may encounter firefighting personnel and apparatus working along the highway.

The Diablo Lake boathouse barely visible through the haze above Diablo Lake.

The Sourdough Fire is currently 2,953 acres with 11% containment. Estimated time of containment is currently listed as October 1, 2023. A multiagency fire response unit with more than 300 personnel continues to coordinate and implement firefighting and containment efforts with a focus on slowing the fire spread, protecting structures and preserving public safety.

“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.” 

City Light has actively managed wildfire risk for years. This past week, we unveiled our Wildfire Risk Reduction Strategy. The strategy prioritizes minimizing potential damage through risk reduction plans that deter wildfire occurrences while also ensuring we are prepared to respond effectively and recover quickly. Its contents are being applied in real-time in the Skagit and will continue to serve us through the response and recovery period after Sourdough has been extinguished.

During the past week, crews contended with hot, dry conditions, and the fire expanded in several directions including passing over State Route 20. The fire in this area has since been extinguished, and crews are closely monitoring it for further developments. Significant effort is being made to tie the Sourdough Fire into the 2015 Goodell Creek burn scar. The maneuvering of the fire towards the previously burnt area is beneficial because it contains considerably less fuel for fire to feed on.

Two of the three dams in City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project are producing only localized power. The transmission system servicing Diablo and Ross dams was once again deenergized on Saturday, August 12, out an abundance of caution to provide safe access to fire crews, our staff and safeguard infrastructure. Vegetation management and lineworker crews are busy prepping lines that run north of State Route 20 and conducting tower inspections in hopes of restoring generation in the near future. City Light staff continue working to maintain operations and monitor infrastructure so that little to no impacts of the fire will be experienced by customers. Any further operational changes will be made through continuous system evaluation and consultation with the fire group.

The State Route 20 closure has been extended due to the Blue Lake Fire that has developed in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. State Route 20 is closed between milepost 120 (Newhalem) and milepost 171 (Silver Star Campground). All Skagit Tours are suspended until further notice. National Park Service (NPS) trail, areas and camp closures are in effect. More information regarding NPS closures can be found here.

For updates on the Sourdough Mountain Fire, please visit: