KITTITAS — The massive fire in Chelan and Kittitas counties has forced even more evacuations as the flames head southwest toward Ellensburg.
Nearly 25 families are being told to get out of the path of the fire, and officials are already shutting down roads to keep people from getting too close to the blaze.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said late Wednesday that 71 residents have evacuated, while some residents have opted to stay. Officials said there about 100 structures in the evacuation area, including primary residences and recreational properties.
Linda Anderson and her granddaughter Ariel rushed to get their animals out of the fire’s path.
Her cats, dogs, and even chickens are all loaded up, ready to evacuate.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office declared a level 3 evacuation early Wednesday morning, which forced at least 20 families to grab what they could and get out.
The evacuation is like déjà vu for Anderson.
“I’m scared. This is not the first fire we’ve been through. We went through three evacuations last year with the fires,” said Anderson.
Jeff Laukala raced up the ridge line to his cabin, where he’s trying to limit the fire danger to his mountain home by removing possible sources of fuel.
Laukala’s home is directly in the path of the wildfire. He hopes a higher power will protect his 20-acre property.
“I’m doing what I can do and, you know, leave it in the Lord’s hands,” said Laukala. “That’s all you can do.”
And even though Anderson has seen all of this before, she worries this time she’ll lose everything.
“It’s OK. We can start all over again,” said Anderson. “We work hard; we can do this, I know we can.”
The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter for those families that don’t have anywhere else to go.
It’s located at 1407 North B Street at the Mercer Creek Church in Ellensburg. There is also an emergency animal shelter located at the Kittitas Valley Event Center.