Rash of roadside fires keeps crews, drivers on their toes

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A large brushfire near I-5 in SeaTac closed three lanes very early Monday morning.


A large brushfire near I-5 in SeaTac closed three lanes very early Monday morning.

SEATTLE — A rash of roadside fires has transportation workers on high alert as warmer than normal temperatures have turned ditches and grasslands alongside highways into tinder for cigarette butts and other flammable objects.

An expansive brush fire alongside Interstate 5 near SeaTac sparked late Sunday night closed three northbound lanes at Milepost 152. The fire grew quickly, burning about three acres before it was extinguished.

No injuries were reported. Witnesses said sparks shooting from a car’s tailpipe potentially caused the fire.

At least one person tweeted descriptions of the brushfire, saying it was so large, they could feel the heat from inside their car.

Another fire broke out early Monday afternoon alongside I-5 near the Fife curve. The fire was quickly extinguished, but caused long backups.

Fires were also reported Monday along Highway 18 near Covington and I-5 near Dupont.

The cause of all three fires was undetermined.

Dry, warm weather increased fire danger in the normally damp Western Washington over the weekend. Officials reminded drivers that tossing a cigarette butt outside a car window could result in a $1025 fine, and those found to have started –even accidentally — a brushfire could be held liable for the damages.

Tukwila Fire Department officials, one of the crews that responded to the Sunday night fire, reminded drivers that fire danger is real in the hot weather.

“We wish to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the extreme fire conditions that currently exists, not just in Central and Eastern Washington, but right here is the greater Seattle area and all of Western Washington,” officials said. “Small fires quickly grow into large fires during these conditions.”

Those who spot a brushfire should call 911.


A brushfire Monday morning.

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