WA wildfires destroy 60 buildings, 400 homes evacuated

Credit: Courtesy Deanna Myers

A wildfire burns in the distance near Cle Elum, Wash.

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by KING 5 News

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 14, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 3:28 AM

SEATTLE -- A wildfire in Central Washington erupted from 2,800 to 27,000 acres in just several hours, destroying at least 60 buildings as it moved within six miles of Cle Elum.

Flames from the Taylor Bridge Wildfire, burning between Highway 97 and Interstate 90 northwest of Cle Elum, also forced the evacuation of another 400 homes after winds shifted, blowing toward several subdivisions.

According to firefighters' maps, some of the houses and structures that have burned are located near Taylor and Durango Road near Indian John Hill, and Ellensburg Ranches Road and Notcho Lane near Highway 97.

There is no containment line around the fire yet.

It started as a brush fire at 1:00 p.m. Monday along SR 10, between Cle Elum and Thorp at Taylor and Hart Road. By midnight it had grown to 16,000 acres and by 2:00 a.m. it had reached nearly 27,000 acres.

With the fire escalating, firefighters and state resources from around Washington can be sent to aid the regional firefighters.

One firefighter said he had never seen flames move so quickly. As a result of a rain in June followed by drier conditions in July, hillsides were filled with combustible tinder for the fire to burn.

Wind is expected to be a factor for firefighters over the next several days, however lightning is not in the forecast until the weekend. Click here for a more detailed wildfire weather forecast. Fire quickly burned through rugged timber late Monday, crowning in trees and glowing across ridge lines. KING 5 photographer Ken Jones drove through a neighborhood after midnight as trees burned around him.

Evacuations are in: Bettas Valley, Swauk Valley, Teanaway, and homes on the westside of SR97 between SR97 and Swauk, SunEast, Upper Reecer Creek, Green Canyon, areas northeast of Ellensburg (specifically homes with no green/defendable space around them).

An emergency shelter is at the Cle Elum Centennial Senior Center, 719 East Third Street, Cle Elum, 509-674-7530. An emergency animal shelter for farm animals has been set up at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds.

Hundreds of people awoke to firefighters at their door, ordering them out of their homes and out of the way of the oncoming fire.

"We were told around 2:30 this morning to get out as soon as possible. We grabbed our St. Bernard dog 'Big' and drove down to the roadblock," said Tammy Damore who lives in a subdivision along Sunlight Road in Cle Elum.

A number of people on Sunlight Road spent the night in their cars, parked at the roadblock.

Firefighters with Kittitas County Fire District 1 have been working the fire all night. Firefighter Brian Cavanaugh has had no break since the flames ignited Monday afternoon.

"We're all tired, but we want to go up and protect those homes," said Cavanaugh.

Tamie Goad came to check on her mother who lives in the subdivision. She learned her mother was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

"I'll be checking on her later, but I want to see if her house is okay," said Goad. "All we can do is wait and hope for the best, but it's going to a long day."

 

 

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