State of emergency in Pierce County; fire spares Crystal Mountain so far

The Pierce County executive declared a state of emergency over the Norse Peak fire. (Photo: KOMO News)

GREENWATER, Wash. -- The Pierce County executive has declared a state of emergency enabling quick action to respond to the Norse Peak Fire at Crystal Mountain.

A Level 3 evacuation remains in effect, meaning people can't stay there. But the latest from the fire chief is that the fire hasn't moved any closer to the resort.

The smoke is so thick you can't even tell where the fire is burning. The poor visibility has kept the fire fighting helicopters grounded.

But through the smoke over night you could see the flames suddenly appear as the the nearly 45,000-acre fire spread over the top of the Pacific Crest Trail. Extra crews came in from Buckley, Enumclaw and Carbonado.

"Kind of got off to a rocky start last night when conditions changed rapidly," said Buckley fire chief Alan Predmore from the scene. That was caused by a change in the winds and forced the calling of the evacuation.

People who own condos at the ski resort were able to get in to get their belongings and ski gear not knowing what they would return to. "Pretty rough," said evacuee Rebecca Raney. "I've been here since I was 8 months in my dad's backpack skiing the mountain, so it's pretty close to home."

But the conditions have stayed the same Tuesday. The fire hasn't gotten close to any condos, cabins or the resort itself. "Things look much better than they did last night," Predmore said

"There's cool front coming through," said Joe Zwierrzchowski of the fire command team that flew in from Florida to oversee the effort. "We're going to see lower temperatures and possibly higher humidity which could help reduce the spread of the fire and help fire fighting efforts."

The hope is the weather will improve enough for the helicopters to come in and help with this fire fight. In the meantime more crews are coming in establishing a base at nearby Greenwater.

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