Colockum Tarps wildfire now 25% contained

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KITTITAS COUNTY — It is now day 6 for firefighters battling the massive wildfire in central Washington near Ellensberg.

aug1fireThe Colockum Tarps fire is now at a whopping 80,000 acres and only 25% contained.

Some of the evacuations issued Wednesday have been lifted, but there are still many people locked out of their homes, just waiting to hear the worst.

“We’ve just been out driving around, trying to get some information and hoping this weather will cooperate,” said Greg Tudor.

Kittitas County sheriff’s deputies evacuated Tudor and his family from their home Wednesday when the threat of wildfire was too close for comfort.

The area around Tudor’s home is surrounded by sage brush and timber, which is perfect fuel for the fire. Tudor grabbed what he could before abandoning his property.

“When I shut that door, it was like, you know, there’s nothing else I can do,” said Tudor. “This is in these guys’ hands. There’s over 700 guys up on the fire lines and mother nature if she’d cooperate a little bit, they’re going to get this thing done and I’ve got my faith in these boys.”

“Yesterday it did not look good and it was very intense, a lot of smoke,” said wildfire public information officer Jeff Sevigney. “Today’s looking much better. Mother nature’s got all the cards here, we’re waiting to see – so far she’s dealing us a good hand today,  but that can change at a moment’s notice.”

Fourteen aircraft also helped fight the fire from above. Nearly 30 cabins are in the direct path of the flames – and so far, firefighters have had good luck.

“Three outbuildings burned, so that’s unfortunate that we lost those outbuildings, but without primary residences affected, that’s definitely good news,” said Sevigney.

Puget Sound Energy shut down most of their windmill turbines near Ellensburg as a safety precaution. The company worried smoke and wind from the fire would damage them.

Meanwhile, Tudor and the other evacuees can do little but hope to return home soon.

“I can buy a new computer, I can buy a new telescope, whatever else I need I can buy that,” said Tudor. “But, pictures and memorabilia, I’ll call the insurance company if I have to.”

There was a public meeting Thursday night at the student union on the Central Washington University campus where officials were to answer questions from the public.

There’s also a chance for lightning storms Thursday night — and while the rain would help, the erratic winds caused by the storms won’t.

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