Thursday, July 25, 2013
SATUS PASS, Wash. – Klickitat County has declared a state of emergency and some evacuations have been ordered as a wildland fire near Status Pass continues to expand today.
“The weather is considered extremely hazardous and (firefighters) expect the fire to grow in size,” said Klickitat County Emergency Management Director Ed Powell.
Highway 97, which was closed late Wednesday afternoon, remains closed indefinitely in an area between Toppenish and Goldendale. State Department of Transportation officials reassessed conditions on the pass at 1 p.m. and decided to keep the highway closed indefinitely.
The fire is now estimated to have burned more than 1,600 acres since it was first reported about 11 a.m. Wednesday.
“We are running out of resources and will need some from around the state,” said Powell, referring to the state of emergency declared about noon today by Klickitat County commissioners.
A number of homes along a roughly 3-mile stretch of Highway 97 from Satus Pass to Brooks Memorial State Park have been ordered evacuated, said Powell, adding it was not immediately clear how many homes were affected by the evacuation order.
A temporary shelter has been set up by the American Red Cross at Our Father’s House Fellowship, 207 S. Klickitat St. in Goldendale.
Responsibility for overseeing firefighting operations was transferred at noon to a state incident command team by the Yakama Nation and state Department of Natural Resources.
The fire grew by about 400 acres overnight and has the potential to spread over the next few days due to dry conditions, high temperatures and winds, according to Steve Andringa, program manager for Yakama Nation tribal forestry operations.
The fire is burning in steep, rugged, remote forest lands near Satus Pass. Most of the fire is within the Yakama reservation, near its southern boundary.
As of this morning, there are about 80 firefighters on scene. On Wednesday night they were aided by a helicopter and three planes dropping retardant, Andringa said.
Additional air support is expected today, he said.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is warning that warm temperatures and winds, coupled with dry fuels, could cause any fires to spread rapidly. As a result, the weather service has issued a red flag warning about fire danger in Yakima, Klickitat and Kittitas counties.
The fire is burning in a fairly remote area, located roughly halfway between Goldendale and Toppenish. No buildings have been damaged or destroyed. There are about 15 structures south of the fire.
NOTE: These are some of my neighbors wondering about the fire
This is what I see looking out my second story window, which overlooks my driveway, that isn't the street, just a long drive, you can't see the street, but it looks pretty much the same.