Colockum Tarps fire forces more evacs, US 97 reopens

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by KING 5 News and Associated Press

KREM.com

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 5:07 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 31 at 3:54 PM

WENATCHEE, Wash. -- The Kittitas County Sheriff's Office has ordered residents of 75 homes and cabins to evacuate due to the Colockum Tarps wildfire.  Meanwhile, US Highway 97 reopened Wednesday.  The road had been closed from Toppenish to Goldendale due to another wildfire.

Kittitas County commissioners also declared an emergency due to the growing fire.

The fire has burned more than 93 square miles of grass, sagebrush and timber southeast of Wenatchee in the Colockum Pass area.

The fire was 8 percent contained Wednesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the fire that is burning in Chelan and Kittitas counties.

The fire has destroyed three homes and several outbuildings. The leading edge is just a few miles from the Wild Horse Wind Farm, which supplies electric power.

The National Weather Service also has issued a red-flag warning for extreme weather conditions with the possibility of thunderstorms and lightning on the east slope of the Cascade Range.

Residents in the Colockum Road area south of Malaga got the green light to return home Tuesday night, ending a 4 day evacuation.

After staying in a shelter, Sharon Hatcher and her husband returned home to find the land around them charred black. She says thanks to three firefighters, the structures were untouched and her farm animals also had a home to return to.

"How three men saved three structures with a fire going like that, they are angels and I can't thank them enough," said Hatcher.

Firefighters say they're remain in the neighborhood for at least three more days to make sure it stays out.

"This fire gets into the tree roots and things, and then it'll pop up," said strike team leader Dave Bell. "If it pops up near fuel, it can light up again. We're here to make sure it doesn't."

Meanwhile, Kittitas County declared a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon because of the Colockum Tarps Fire.

The fire is large enough to cover the city of Tacoma.

The Sheriff’s Office has issued a Level 3 Evacuation notice from the northern Kittitas County line south to Skookumchuck Creek and Scammon Landing, along the western shoreline of the Columbia River.

The Rogue and Union Hot Shots out of Oregon and the Washington based Entiat Hot Shots have been brought in to fight the fire.

“We got notified about 6:30, 7 o'clock last night,” said Than Shetler, who has fought fire for 8 years.

“We were on fire early, in places where they shouldn't have been burning. And they were burning pretty actively.”

Residents affected by the fire can contact the Kittitas County Emergency Operations Center at 509-933-8305 during business hours, 8:00am-5:00pm, or Kittcom at 509-925-8534 during non-business hours.  The public is also encouraged to monitor the County website for updates, http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us/.  For fire information, visit http://inciweb.org/incident/3567/, or contact the Colockum Tarps Fire at 509-662-9984.


Mile Marker 28 Fire

A fire burning near Goldendale has grown to more than 20,000 acres.

The fire along the top of Satus Pass is dozens of homes. No structures have been destroyed. Some residents of Klickitat County were allowed to return to their homes Monday.

The fire was about 25 percent contained Tuesday morning and about 1,300 people are working to stop it.

Meanwhile, US Highway 97 from Toppenish to Goldendale was set to reopen at noon Wednesday. Delays of up to one hour are expected.
 
The highway has been closed for several days due to another wildfire burning near Satus Pass. Highway 97 is open to local traffic only from Mile Marker 13 to 24. Drivers are encouraged to use alternate routes on State Route 14, State Route 221 and Interstate 82. For questions contact the WSDOT Highway 24-hour Hotline (509) 577-1617.

Fire information from InciWeb

Chelan fires

Four new fires were reported in the Lake Chelan area that were ignited by lightning on Sunday.

The largest fire is the Moore Point Fire about seven miles southeast of Stehekin. The fire estimated between 40-50 acres, is burning on private land and within Lake Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness Area.

Twenty firefighter personnel, one helicopter, and one scooper plane are working the fire as more resources are ordered.

Forest Service officials have closed Moore Point campground, as well as the Lakeshore Trail No. 1274 between Meadow Creek and Flick Creek campground.

Three smaller fires also ignited.

Statewide burn ban in effect

DNR has issued a statewide burn ban on all lands under DNR protection, effective through September 30. The ban applies to all forestlands in Washington State, except federal lands, and prohibits campfires in all state, local and private campgrounds.

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