Hazy view of Crystal Mountain Resort

No structural damage and a bit of rain is good news for the popular ski area as crews work to contain two nearby wildfires.
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No structural damage and a bit of rain is good news for the popular ski area as crews work to contain two nearby wildfires.
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‘Busy but calm’ on the front lines of two Pierce County wildfires

By Stacia Glenn

sglenn@thenewstribune.com

September 08, 2017 09:14 AM

Two wildfires near Crystal Mountain and Greenwater keep claiming more acreage but crews have kept them from moving closer to cabins.

The Norse Peak Fire topped 46,000 acres and Sawmill Creek Fire stands at nearly 930 acres, with a combined 615 firefighters fighting to protect the resort, homes and huge swaths of cherished forest.

A bit of rain and cooler temperatures brought sweet relief to the front lines early Friday, growing the hope that helicopters can soon start dropping water on the blaze.

Two helicopters sit waiting.

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The smoke cleared enough Thursday that pilots could do air reconnaissance and get the first good look in days at the wildfires’ activity.

Paul Sowers, Crystal Mountain’s fire chief, summed the day up succinctly: “It was busy, but calm.”

Night patrols kept an eye on the fire, allowing firefighters some much-needed rest.

Crews continued digging lines around the cabin areas starting at Deep Creek, crossing the 1199 trail, going around Goat Creek and across Silver Creek.

Work on the line is expected to continue Friday.

Contractors continue spraying properties with fire retardant and volunteer firefighters are expanding and improving sprinkler systems to protect cabins.

Residents are anxious to retrieve belongings from homes they quickly fled, or get back into the area to see how things are going.

“It’s just really devastating,” Natalia Amirfalz told KOMO. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if it’s going to burn. It’s really scary.”

No structures have burned in either fire.

A few spot fires popped up, one just a half mile from Deep Creek, but firefighters were able to quickly douse them.

Limited resources somewhat concerns fire officials, who said the Sawmill Creek Fire is threatening the Tacoma watershed.

Two Washington National Guard crews joined the battle Thursday.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said it is “maintaining a larger than normal law enforcement presence in the Greenwater area” until the fires are under control.

Norse Peak Fire is still only 8 percent contained.

A community information meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at Greenwater Community Center, 59707 state Route 410.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653