Kittitas County declares emergency as Tarps fire moves south

WENATCHEE — Flames from the Colockum Tarps wildfire are being pushed south and west by northeasterly winds and that’s moving the fire into some heavy timber in Kittitas County.

Colockum Tarp WildfireThat could spell more trouble from a blaze that drove neighbors in Chelan County from homes with only minutes to spare.

“I’m kind of in shock, really,” said Greg Simmons, who just returned to survey his burned-out property near Malaga, Wash.

The roadblock keeps gawkers out of the evacuated area and a Chelan County sheriff’s deputy checks the identification of homeowners trying to get back in and take stock of what’s been lost.

“It almost looks like a bomb went off around my place; it’s really not a whole lot left,” said Simmons. “The main structure of the house is still standing. All our outbuildings, our horse barn, shops, everything is burned to the ground.”

“The fire since has moved down past the Quilomene Ridge area; it goes down into this area,” Rick Isaccson with Chelan County Fire said.

tarpsplane

A DC-10 drops fire retardant Tuesday on the Colockum Tarps fire in Chelan County. (Photo: inciweb.nwcg.gov)

Isaccson added that firefighters are facing heat and swirling winds that make it nearly impossible to get a line around the fire as it pushes steadily into Kittitas County.

“Today it’s supposed to pick up,” Isaccson said. “We were looking at winds out of the northwest and the north at the beginning of the fire. Today it’s changed, coming out of the northeast, causing the fire to make more of a curve to run back towards Ellensburg. It’s quite away from Ellensburg, but it’s moving in that direction.”

The fire had grown to 52,000 acres as of 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Kittitas County commissioners declared an emergency on Tuesday afternoon.

Commissioners heard an update from the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday afternoon. The fire was described as “extremely active” as it continues to move south as well as upslope to the west. The resolution activates the county’s emergency plan.

Simmons and his neighbors in Chelan County are dealing with what it’s left behind.

“Don’t even know where to start really as far as, you know, how to rebuild and get everything the way it was,” said Simmons. “It’s unbelievable. It looks like the moon around there.”

Hot shot crews from Oregon have joined the fight.

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