State tentatively plans to reopen SR 20 — the North Cascades Highway — at noon Sunday

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Washington State Route 20 in the North Cascades.

MARBLEMOUNT, Wash.  – The Washington State Department of Transportation said Friday it tentatively plans to reopen State Route 20 — the North Cascades Highway — at noon Sunday.  It was closed Aug. 19 due to wildfire danger.

Fire officials with the Great Basin Incident Management Team 4 said Friday that current fire behavior, along with predicted wet weather,  no longer necessitate the closure of SR 20.

Rains predicted for the next week will slow the fire down enough to allow for access through the park, the team said.

“Safety is always our top priority,” said WSDOT’s Dave McCormick. “Sunday morning we will need to re-evaluate the slopes to see if this weekend’s rains brought more debris onto the road.”

Officials said Seattle City Light will continue to assess damage to infrastructure, such as power lines and towers. Temporary, intermittent closures of SR 20 may be necessary for helicopter and heavy equipment work to place and install materials.

The National Park Service will bring in a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team to assess fire impacts to the park. The BAER team will initially focus on hazard trees burned or weakened by the fire near campgrounds and along roads and interpretive trails in high visitor use areas.

The visitor center, Colonial, Goodell, and Gorge campgrounds will open with SR 20. Newhalem Campground will remain closed until next spring.

“Like our partners and stakeholders, the National Park Service wants to have the road open as soon as it is safe to do so,” said North Cascades National Park Service Complex Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich. “We appreciate everyone’s hard work towards that goal and look forward to having visitors return to the park.”

Fire activity closed the the highway Aug. 19, after winds, high temperatures, and low humidity drove the lightning-caused Goodell Fire east and across the road.

Newhalem, Diablo, Ross Lake Resort, the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center and all campgrounds were evacuated.

There are multiple fires still active in the park, officials said, and conditions can change rapidly. Call the North Cascades Highway Hotline at 360-707-5055 for the latest updates on SR 20.

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