Hidden Valley remains trouble spot on Taylor Bridge fire


by KING 5 News


Posted on August 23, 2012 at 9:26 AM

The Taylor Bridge Wildfire burning near Cle Elum is nearly contained, with just one stubborn area of the fire zone needing attention.

The Hidden Valley drainage area is the last piece of land that needs containment, and according to firefighters, it's not an easy task.

"It's in the most mountainous terrain we have," said Nick Mueller with Incident Command. "It's a very difficult piece."

The Hidden Valley area is along the northern edge of the fire, south of S.R. 970. Hidden Valley neighborhoods have been evacuated since the start of the fire almost two weeks ago, but restrictions were eased Thursday to allow homeowners back in to see their property.

Six 20-person crews are working on lines in just in the Hidden Valley area. Firefighters must pack into the area's narrow canyon on foot, and bulldozers aren't an option for containment lines because it's too steep and rocky.

Latest map of the fire from Kittitas County - click here

Adding to the difficulty, winds whip across the steep slopes, reaching 55 mph on Wednesday.

"Because of it's alignment...the gusty winds are kind of an eddy in there, they throw embers around," Mueller said.

The Taylor Bridge Wildfire is 91 percent contained and is estimated to be completely contained by next Wednesday. Volatile weather has delayed the containment date a few times in the last week.

"We're pretty certain we'll get it within that time," said Mueller.

The fire has burned through more than 23,000 acres and destroyed about 100 structures.

Kittitas County and Incident Command is offering a Resource Recovery Center available for evacuees on Thursday. Anyone affected by the fire should go to Central Washington University's Green Hall between 8:00 a.m. and noon.