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Washington wildfires threaten homes, livelihoods

As many as three wildfires burned across Washington state in the summer of 2013.

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Local News
07/29/13

Colockum Tarps Wildfire grows to 20,000 acres

FireWENATCHEE, Wash. — The fast-moving Colockum Tarps Fire near the town of Malaga grew to 20,000 acres in size Monday, with huge plumes of smoke visible in the sky from as far away as Yakima.

Officials said the fire that started at 8 a.m. Saturday was only 5 percent contained on Monday. About 60 residents in the area were under Level 3 evacuation notices as three houses and several outbuildings burned down Sunday. Other Level 2 and Level 1 evacuation notices were issued for homes in the Lower Colockum area.

Fire officials could not estimate when the fire would be contained, and said high winds and dry conditions exacerbated control problems. Firefighters focused their efforts on containment lines to the North and West perimeter of the fire to best protect homes in the area. Late afternoon winds were expected to push the fire downhill and to the south, further threatening homes.

As many as 59 fire engines and five helicopters were in use to fight the blaze fed by grass and timber.  More than 300 firefighters fought the fire.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the Bureau of Land Management and other state and local law enforcement personnel worked to extinguish the fire.

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A road closed near a wildfire burning in Wenatchee

GOLDENDALE, Wash. — Three large wildfires burned across Washington state Monday, setting more than 20,000 acres ablaze and threatening homes, animals and the livelihoods of thousands.

The Mile Marker 28 Fire northeast of Goldendale, Wash. along Highway 97 is the largest fire burning in the state. Officials said the fire had burned more than 17,000 acres Sunday night, closing portions of Highway 97 between Goldendale and Toppenish. A majority of the fire was burning through logging slash and brush along the eastern flank of the fire, and Level 2 evacuation notices were ordered for homes and residents eight miles west of Bickelton at 4 p.m. Sunday.

While the fire was large, more than 28 fire crews, 5 helicopters, 92 engines and 1,000 personnel managed to fight the blaze down to 25 percent containment.  Officials said more moderate temperatures and calmer winds would ease the blaze.

However, firefighters are fighting to contain a large wildfire southeast of Wenatchee, Wash that sparked early Saturday morning. The Colockum Fire started as a small brush fire in the 7100 block of Colockum Road near Malga, Wash., but wind and dry conditions quickly caused the fire to spread into a 1,000-acre blaze. Level 3 evacuation notices were issued for about 60 residents near the fire, and three homes and a number of outbuildings were lost due to the fire Sunday, officials said.  Two minor injuries were also reported.

As of 4 p.m. Sunday, the fire had grown to between 7,000 and 10,000 acres, and officials did not believe much — if any — of the blaze was contained. At least 240 fire personnel were on the scene, officials said, and homeowners like Carla Boatman said the fire was “a real threat,” to the home they hold dear.

“I’m worried,” Boatman said, I’m scared. I mean that’s really close to our house. I just hope everything is OK.”

Firefighters struggled with easterly wind gusts Sunday, causing the fire to slide toward dry sage brush and grass. The cause of the fire Colockum fire was still under investigation Monday.

A third, smaller fire burned on the west side of the Cascades Monday, sending smoke into the normal tranquil North Bend community. The fire, called the 444th Fire, burned nearly 18 acres over the weekend east of North Bend and sent nearly 80 firefighters from the Department of Natural Resources and Eastside Fire and Rescue into action. The fire, burning at the rocky base of the popular Mt. Si hiking area, closed a number of hiking trails.

Officials said the fire was human caused and was was largely contained late Sunday night, with officials predicting at least 50 percent of the fire to be under control.

However, officials warned that fires like the 444th Fire could become a larger problem, as dry conditions exist on both sides of the state.

A number of outdoor burn bans were in affect around Washington state in an effort to curb wildfires. King, Pierce and Kitsap Counties were the last area counties to ban outdoor burning.  For more information on the bans, click here.

WENATCHEE — They call it the Colockum Tarps Fire.

It started Saturday morning about eight just south of Wenatchee.

Sunday it grew and doubled in size to more than 35-hundred acres and it’s still growing.

“That’s a lot of smoke and that’s right by our house,” homeowner Carla Boatman said.

Boatman had to evacuate her home shortly after the fire started.

She hasn’t been back since, and she doesn’t know what she will find when she does.

wenatchee fire

Don Seabrook/Wenatchee World

“I’m worried.  I’m scared. I mean that’s really close to our house. I just hope everything is ok,” Boatman said.

“There’s houses burned up, up there and we have no way to get in there to be able to confirm that or deny that, so we know there’s probably other structures that have burned up or are burning up right now,” Chelan County Fire District 1 spokesman Rick Isaacson said.

About 60 homes are under a level three evacuation order.

“Level three evacuations which means the fire is here.  You should be leaving now,” Isaacson said.

State mobilization Sunday morning brought in 240 fresh fire fighters from around the state.

They are fighting the fire from the ground and from the air with three DNR helicopters and airplanes too.

The fire is fueled by extremely dry brush and high winds that are difficult to predict.

“Right now we’re dealing with easterly winds, out of the northwest, whatever and that make it so it stays down in the sage brush and grass.  If it should switch and move to the west that’s where the trees are,” Isaacson said.

More fuel for the fire.

“It’s kind of scary a little bit because it’s been going for more than a day now. So I mean they are trying their hard to contain it but it’s not hard enough,” homeowner Ulisses Kerby said.

Kerby was forced from his home with little more than the clothes on his back.

“I’m kind of worried.  Everything I possess is inside that home so I mean if it goes down it goes down with everything I own,” Kerby said.

Two fire fighters were injured Saturday.

One actually went to the hospital, but both are going to be ok.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Wenatchee fireWENATCHEE – Firefighters are battling wildfires burning thousands of acres across Washington State.

The fire burning near Mount Si in the North Bend area has grown to more than 18 acres, Seth Barnes with Washington State Department of Natural Rescources said.  About 50 firefighters and one helicopter are fighting a fire that was reported on Friday afternoon and is moving up the mountain. So far, no homes have been burned and there have been no evacuations, but the fire has closed the popular Mount Si hiking trails.

Near Wenatchee, the Colockum Tarps fire has grown to about 4,000 acres. The fire is burning in grass and scrub brush in rocky terrain and so far, two structures have been burned, according to Chelan County Fire District’s Rick Isaacson.

There is a Level 3 evacuation order in effect. More than 100 firefighters are fighting this fire, which has been fueled by winds. Two firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

The largest fire that’s currently burning is the Mile Mark 28 fire, that’s burned more than 17,000 acres near Goldendale. The fire is burning in grass, shrub brush, timber litter and the smoke from the fire has forced the Washington State Department of Transportation to close Highway 97 between Goldendale and Toppenish.  No structures have burned and there has been only one minor injury to a firefighter, a spokesperson at the Incident Command center in Goldendale reported.

wenatchee fire

Don Seabrook/Wenatchee World

Malaga – Two structures were destroyed after a small brusfire rapidly transforms into a wildfire. A vacant double wide trailer was scorched and firefighters were unsure what the second structure was as of Saturday night. About 60 people have been evacuated from the town of Malaga, which is 15 miles South of Wenatchee.

Malaga Alcoa Highway was blocked off to traffic as more than 100 firefighters battled the 2000 acre brush fire raging out of control. As of Saturday night it was 0% contained.

That was scary news for residents who have everything to lose.

Cheryl Keeley says the brush fire started close to her father’s home around 8:30 a.m. By early afternoon, the fire was just 50 yards from her father’s home.

“They are pumping water from his swimming pool to fight the fire,” said Keeley.

Most of the residents who were evacuated are staying with friends and family but the Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wenatchee.

So far no residents have been hurt but two firefighter suffered minor injuries.

Colockum Road and Kingsbury Road are among the areas evacuated.

Local News
07/27/13

Structures burned, homes threatened by Wenatchee area wildfire

wenatchee fire

Don Seabrook/Wenatchee World

SEATTLE — A small brush fire that started around 8 a.m. Saturday near Wenatchee has grown to 2,000 acres and continues to grow, said Chelan County Chief Jason Mathews.

The fire started in the 7100 block of Colockum Road in Malaga, south of Wenatchee.

By 11 a.m., the wind driven fire went to a third alarm, having burned 1,000 acres.

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett requested emergency declaration from Chelan County Commissers, which was granted.

The Sheriff’s Office issued level 3 evacuations on Colockum Road, Tarpisican Road, and Kingsbury Road, said Chief Mathews.

Approximately 60 residents were notified of the fire and their evacuation level.

Wenatchee Valley Humane Society assisted with the evacuation of pets and livestock from multiple locations.

During the initial stages of the fire two structures were lost, one of which was unoccupied double wide trailer.

Statewide mobilization of out of area fire resources has been approved and en route to include a type 3 Incident Command Team.

Three helicopters and three airplane are assisting in fire suppression efforts.

Local News
07/27/13

Wildfire closes Mount Si trails

Mt Si wildfireNORTH BEND – A wildfire burning near North Bend has grown to about 10 acres and has forced the closure of the Mount Si hiking trail system.  Eastside Fire and Rescue Chief Bud Backer said that the fire, which was reported on Friday afternoon, is now burning to the west.  Eastside Fire and Rescue firefighters, along with a Department of Natural Resources helicopter, have been fighting the fire since Friday afternoon.  There have been no evacuations of residents that live in the area, and no structures have been threatened, Backer said.

Doreen Smith with the Washington State DNR said that there are about 40 firefighters battling the fire.  The fire is burning on steep terrain and the cause of the fire is under investigation.  The wildfire has forced the closure of the Mount Si trail system, Smith said.  So far, there have been no injuries reported.

 

 

Local News
07/26/13

Wildfire breaks out on Mount Si

NORTH BEND — Firefighters on Friday were battling a blaze on Mount Si that was growing and moving uphill away from 444th Avenue SE and Mount Si Road, Eastside Fire & Rescue said.

Only a small portion of the fire was accessible from the road, Eastside Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Bud Backer said. The state Department of Natural Resources was on scene and was planning to bring in a helicopter to help douse the fire.

As of 8 p.m. Friday, the fire was 50% contained and had covered about 3 acres, authorities said.

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