SOAP LAKE, Wash. – A 2,000-acre wildfire north of Soap Lake in Grant County quickly prompted emergency officials to issues level 3 evacuations on Monday night.
Crews are still working to contain the flames. As of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, the fire was 50 percent contained. State mobilization has been approved and resources from across the state are arriving to help.
No buildings were damaged but people were told to leave their homes. Despite evacuation warnings, some homeowners opted to stay. Authorities point out that in these situations, someone cannot be forced off their own land.
Randy Sjoden lives on a few acres of Soap Lake. He was coming home when they saw the smoke. It was not long until authorities told him to get out and that the flames could come close.
"I thought, ehh, that's not going to happen,” Sjoden said laughing. “I was thinking I was OK. I’ve got a nice buffer zone there.”
Sjoden's neighbors were under level three orders too and opted to leave their homes. Sjoden was not the only one who decided to stay. Evacuation orders are essentially very strong and worthwhile advice from authorities.
"It's an individual decision. Folks should be aware, though, if you're given a level 3 evacuation order and you don't evacuate, there's not a lot we can do to come to your rescue," said Washington State Patrol Public Information Office Jeff Sevigney said.
Nothing has changed regarding how evacuation levels are determined. In this case, the fire was moving very quickly Monday night because of high winds.
"We don't like to use them unless we have to. And when we have to, it's usually because the situation is very serious," Sevigney said.
Sjoden feels he will be ok with his green setup but it does not hurt having talented guys in the background, too.
"I just felt comfortable and grateful for the Grant County fire department. It made me feel a lot better through the whole thing," he said.
Authorities want to remind people that popular Grant County areas are open for business and there are not any closures related to the fire. Do be careful when using flame outdoors.