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Severe fire hazard has prompted the Forest Service to close all National Forest lands north of Highway 2 on the Wenatchee River Ranger District to public entry.

“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly,” said District Ranger Jeff Rivera.  “Our primary concern is for public and fire fighter safety.”  The closure will be lifted as soon as the unusual wildfire threat is abated, but rainfall predicted for this weekend probably will not be enough to end that threat, he said. The decision notice signed by Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Supervisor Mike Williams is effective immediately. The forest closure includes all National Forest System lands on the Wenatchee River Ranger District north of Highway 2 except the higher elevation Pacific Crest Trail.

The closure is prompted by the expansion of the Wolverine wildfire on the Entiat Ranger District just north of the Wenatchee River district, Rivera said.  “That fire has not crossed the Entiat ridge, but I want to be prepared.”  “This closure is necessary because fire-fighting resources are stretched so thin we can’t stand the risk of additional human caused fires in the area,” Rivera said.   Extended drought and extreme weather conditions have led to major wildfires in eastern Washington and throughout the west, he noted.

National Forest lands on the Wenatchee River District south of Highway 2 remain open at this time.  “Businesses in the town of Leavenworth are still open and, so far, the air in this community has been remarkably free of smoke considering all the fires that are burning in eastern Washington,” Rivera said.

NOTE: AS of 8:00 PM Thursday the State Park campground at Lake Wenatchee is still open and occupied.