UPDATE: Crews fighting a large blaze in central Washington hope to increase containment levels by Wednesday evening, but are keeping a wary eye on weather conditions later in the week. The fire burning near Cle Elum has burned dozens of homes and caused about 900 people to evacuate. Incident commander Rex Reed said he was hopeful containment would be up from 10 percent to 25 percent later in the day. However authorities are worried about hotter, drier conditions Thursday and Friday and the possibility of lightning Saturday. The fire that broke out Monday at a bridge construction site.
CLE ELUM, Wash. - Calmer winds have firefighters hoping they can make progress Wednesday containing a wildfire that has burned 70 homes and more than 40 square miles in central Washington. Incident commander Rex Reed says things went well overnight after winds died down. He says the 800 firefighters will focus Wednesday on preventing the fire from threatening a housing development near Cle Elum and a stand of timber. The fire that broke out Monday at a bridge construction site is about 10 percent contained. At least 400 homes with an estimated 900 people have been evacuated. No injuries have been reported.
CLE ELUM, Wash. - Two emergency shelters are set up at the following locations: Cle Elum Centennial Senior Center, 719 E. Third Street in Cle Elum, and Central Washington University – Munson Dorms, 400 E. University Way in Ellensburg, Washington. Livestock has also been evacuated to the Kittitas County Fairground in Ellensburg, Washington.
Approximately 28,077 acres are now burned with several unburned islands within the fire perimeter. The Kittitas County Emergency Operation Center reported 60 primary structures lost at this time. The fire danger is being assessed and once conditions are safe, homeowners will be allowed to return to their homes. Containment is now being reported at 10%.
The fire is under unified command, and includes agencies from WA Department of Natural Resource (WA DNR), Kittitas County Fire District 1, 2, and 7. Washington State mobilization was authorized at 3:30 p.m. deploying firefighting resources to the Taylor Bridge Fire. Incident Commander Rex Reed and members of the Washington Incident Management Team 2 assumed command of the fire at 8:00 a.m. today.
The fire started along Highway 10 at the Taylor Road junction where the bridge was being rebuilt. The fire was caused during the construction project.
***Two community meetings have been planned for Wednesday, August 15:
In Cle Elum at 4:00 PM
Cle Elum/Roslyn High School Gymnasium
2692 SR 903
In Ellensburg at 7:00 PM
Central Washington University Student Union Recreation Room
400 East University Way
UPDATE: A state of emergency was proclaimed on Tuesday for Kittitas and Yakima counties to make available additional fire fighting resources to contain the Taylor Bridge Fire. The proclamation is in response to a specific request from the Department of Natural Resources which handles statewide wildfire efforts.
DNR requested air support from the Washington National Guard to assist in containment efforts. The Taylor Bridge Fire in Kittitas County has scorched more than 20,000 acres, destroyed approximately 60 structures and forced approximately 900 residents to evacuate the area.
Yakima County has declared a Stage 1 Burn Ban for the upper and lower county areas due to residual smoke originating from the Kittitas wildfire. "I have requested that the Emergency Management Department and the Washington State Patrol continue to make this firefighting effort a priority and provide the resources that the Department of Natural Resources needs to carry out its job," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "DNR notified us today that access to Washington National Guard helicopters would assist in their efforts and this proclamation makes available those resources."Gregoire is closely monitoring the fire, is in contact with all response agencies, and directed her staff in the preparation of the proclamation which was signed by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen due to his status by law as acting governor when Gregoire is out of state.
The proclamation directs state agencies "to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected political subdivisions in an effort to respond to and recovery from" the events in Kittitas and Yakima counties.
Starting yesterday state agencies began mobilizing in response to the fire. The Washington State Military Department has activated the State Emergency Operations Center, implemented response procedures, and is coordinating resources to alleviate immediate impacts to people, property, and infrastructure. The Washington State Patrol also approved a fire mobilization request on the afternoon of August 13, 2012.
With hot and dry temperatures expected to remain, air quality is also a concern.
"People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid exertion and—I can't emphasize this enough—check with their health care professional if they begin to have difficulty breathing," said Gregoire. "Everyone else in poor air quality areas should limit their outdoor activity to get through this safely."
CLE ELUM, Wash. (AP) - A number of homes that have burned in a central Washington wildfire are along Bettas Road near Cle Elum. The fire driven by shifting winds continues to threaten homes Tuesday afternoon. An Associated Press photographer witnessed about eight neighbors using hand tools to cut a fire line in an attempt to protect another neighbor's house. The grass fire was suddenly whipped up by the wind. It ran directly at the group of neighbors who had to run. Everyone made it safely away. The fire slowed enough to give another neighbor time to arrive with a water truck. He spread water around the perimeter of the house just in time to save it.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire says the wildfire burning near Cle Elum is a priority for the Washington State Patrol and the state Emergency Management Department. She says she's also monitoring the work of the Department of Natural Resources and is in contact for any assistance it may need. In addition the state Department of Corrections has contributed more than 140 prison inmates on the fire lines. State fire assistance was mobilized Monday in response to a request from Kittitas County Fire District 7. The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed Tuesday to assist with funds from a program for uncontrolled wildfires.
CLE ELUM, Wash. (AP) - A fast-moving wildfire burned 60 homes across about 40 square miles of central Washington grassland, timber and sagebrush. Fire commanders estimated Tuesday the blaze has burned at least 26,000 acres since it started Monday afternoon east of the town of Cle Elum. So far, no injuries have been reported but hundreds of people have been evacuated. The fire crept within six miles of Ellensburg, about 75 miles east of Seattle. The fire is not contained.
CLE ELUM, Wash. - State fire assistance has been mobilized under the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan in support of local firefighters working to contain the Taylor Bridge Fire located 6 miles east of Cle Elum on State Route 10, milepost 90 in Kittitas County. Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste authorized the mobilization of state firefighting resources at 3:30 p.m., August 13, 2012, at the request of Kittitas County Fire District #7.
The fire started on August 13, 2012 at approximately 1:19 p.m. and is burning in sage, and timber. The cause of the fire is unknown. The fire has grown to an estimated 800+ acres. There are approximately 100 residences threatened by the fire with evacuations in place. Mobilization specialists from the Fire Protection Bureau have ordered eight strike teams of Wildland engines to supplement the resources already fighting the fire.
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Camp Murray has been activated to Phase II, to coordinate state assistance for the Taylor Bridge Fire. Personnel from the Office of the State Fire Marshal will be on scene to coordinate dispatch of resources, and other personnel will staff the State EOC.
Under the State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan, the Fire Protection Bureau coordinates the initial dispatch and continued administrative oversight of resources and personnel for the duration of the incident.
The Mobilization Plan is implemented to provide a process to quickly notify, assemble and deploy fire service personnel, equipment and other resources from around the state when fires, disasters or other events exceed the capacity of local jurisdictions. More information about the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan is available at: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/mobilization.htm
CLE ELUM, Wash. - A new wildfire burning east of Cle Elum in central Washington is growing quickly and reportedly threatening about 30 homes, and has already burned at least 12.
Washington Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mark Grassel said the Taylor Bridge fire started Monday afternoon and has burned about 2,000 acres. Evacuations are taking place at this time.
The Daily Record of Ellensburg says the Kittitas County sheriff's office is advising people in the rural area to leave their homes. The newspaper says an emergency shelter has been opened in Cle Elum. Grassel says the fire is burning about four miles east of Cle Elum and headed away from that community. Additional firefighters are being called to the scene, but right now the fire is zero percent contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)