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Wildfires near Newhalem spreading southeast

Fire burns in timber near Newhalem on Sunday, Aug. 23. Firefighters from Whatcom County and elsewhere were assigned to protect buildings in the town.
Fire burns in timber near Newhalem on Sunday, Aug. 23. Firefighters from Whatcom County and elsewhere were assigned to protect buildings in the town. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Wildfires in the upper Skagit River Valley have grown south of Newhalem but still are not threatening buildings in the area, according to the National Park Service.

The size of the eight fires near the town of Newhalem — called the Upper Skagit Complex Fire — is 4,342 acres, the park service said in a statement Aug. 24.

The largest and most active of those is the Goodell Fire. It has spread south of Newhalem and east of the park’s visitor center, and the east flank of the fire crossed Gorge Creek. It has not moved west of Goodell Creek, the park service said.

The fire was 0 percent contained as of Monday morning. Firefighters Monday continued to protect buildings in the towns of Newhalem and Diablo. Newhalem is home to a Seattle City Light electricity-generating station.

Highway 20 is closed in both directions from Newhalem to Rainy Pass. The fire has loosened soil, rock and vegetation near the highway — making driving conditions hazardous, the park service said.

Evacuations are in place for the town of Diablo, as well as the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center and Ross Lake Resort. Ross Lake has not been evacuated, but it is not accessible.

Bellingham Fire Department, North Whatcom Fire & Rescue and South Whatcom Fire Authority have sent firefighters to the Upper Skagit Complex Fire, joining firefighters from Skagit and Snohomish counties.

Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com.

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