Goldendale crews double as wildfire rages


by Associated Press

Posted on September 9, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 6:49 PM

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A wildfire has burned several buildings and grown quickly, prompting fire crews to double overnight near Goldendale in south-central Washington.

The fire has torched thousands of acres, destroyed nine homes, with a total of 64 buildings, including barns.

In the last 36 hours the fire has grown quickly and 600 firefighters were expected to be battling the blaze by Saturday.

Nuns tried to help and then were urged to evacuate as the Monastery Complex Fire burned in hot and dry areas and quickly grew to around 2,000 acres Thursday morning.

The blaze was also disrupting traffic on U.S. Highway 97 between Goldendale and Toppenish. A six-mile stretch of highway was closed for more than two hours Wednesday afternoon before traffic flow resumed, initially with pilot cars to lead vehicles through the area.

Jim Duck of the Washignton Department of Natural Resources told the Yakima Herald-Republic that the fire is burning in a forested area near Brooks Memorial State Park, about 3 miles west of the Satus Pass summit.

Residents on Satus Pass were also being evacuated. Firefighters from the state and Klickitat County helped battle the blaze.

Evacuees were being housed at the Klickitat County Fairgrounds.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for high wildfire danger over most of Washington's Cascades and Olympics through the weekend because of warm, dry conditions.

Helicopters dropped water on a nearly 400-acre fire in a remote part of the Brothers Wilderness Area on the Olympic Peninsula.

KGW Reporter Jaqueline Sit contributed to this report