Central Wash. wildfires destroy homes, force evacuations




Posted on July 27, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 31 at 12:18 PM

GOLDENDALE, Wash. (AP) -- Nearly 17,000 acres have burned in the Mile Marker 28 fire near Goldendale along Highway 97. Several homes are under a mandatory evacuation while other residents are being told to prepare to evacuate.  Meanwhile, a brush fire south of Wenatchee destroyed five homes, two of which were occupied.

U.S. Highway 97 from Toppenish to Goldendale remains closed.

The fire was 15 percent contained Sunday and the cause was still under investigation  The blaze nearly doubled in size over the weekend and was expected to keep growing.

More than 1,000 personnel and five helicopters were fighting the fire.  Multiple brush trucks and strike teams from eastern Washington joined crews already battling the blaze.  Authorities from Spokane Fire District 9 said at least one strike team with five wildland engines was headed to the wildfire.

The Department of Natural Resources said crews were forced to retreat over the weekend from building a fire-line because the flames were so active.

The fire along the top of Satus Pass is threatening about 144 structures, including about 69 residences. That number was updated on Sunday. No structures have been destroyed but all have been evacuated.

Meanwhile, the brush fire burning south of Wenatchee has grown to more than three square miles before destroying five homes.
The fire burning at the Colockum Pass area has not burned any more structures since two were destroyed on Saturday, but fire officials say about 40 homes and cabins are threatened.
Two minor injuries have been reported to firefighters on that fire.

Two helicopters and an airplane are dropping water and fire retardant on the blaze. About 100 firefighters from Chelan and Douglas counties as well as the Washington Department of Natural Resources are working on the fire.

Chelan County Fire Chief Bill Neckels says high temperatures and 30 mph winds are making the effort to fight this fire and protecting homes and cabins in the area more difficult.

The cause of the Colockum Tarps fire was also unkown.