Firefighters on Sunday continued to battle a 17,000-acre wildfire over Satus Pass in south-central Washington, the state’s biggest wildfire so far this year.
Nearly 1,200 firefighters were working to contain the large wildfire, which threatened about 180 structures, including 69 homes, in Klickitat County, officials said. The Klickitat County sheriff ordered the homes evacuated.
With the fire advancing east and potentially threatening more homes, fire managers planned a second community meeting Sunday night. Certain areas north of Bickleton Highway and Box Spring Road were told to prepare to leave.
The cause of the fire remained unknown. The fire was reported about 15 percent contained Sunday afternoon. Steep terrain has made it difficult to extinguish the flames.
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More accurate mapping and the eastward spread of the wildfire nearly doubled the estimate of its size from Saturday to Sunday, officials said. Grasslands, brush and timber have fed the wildfire’s growth, but cooler temperatures forecast for Monday could help firefighters contain the blaze.
In addition to firefighters, five helicopters were brought in to combat the wildfire. An interagency fire-incident team is working with the Yakama Nation, the Washington Department of Natural Resources and several other agencies to contain the wildfire.
Dubbed the Mile Marker 28 fire, it began at about 11 a.m. Wednesday. State officials closed Highway 97 between Toppenish and Goldendale that afternoon, shutting a transit corridor between Yakima and Oregon.
The highway remains closed — possibly through Wednesday — and state transportation officials advised drivers to use alternative routes: Highway 14, Highway 221 and Interstate 82.
Closer to Seattle, near North Bend, crews continued to fight a wildfire on the south side of Mount Si that had shut down the popular trail system.
The fire covered about 18 acres of state land but didn’t endanger any homes near the mountain’s base or trigger evacuations.
The cause of the fire, which began near 444th Avenue Southeast and Southeast Mount Si Road, was human activity, said Seth Barnes, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources. He said the investigation was continuing and that he couldn’t provide further details.
About 70 firefighters from the department and Eastside Fire & Rescue were fighting the blaze, officials said.
Water dropped by the two helicopters Saturday slowed the blaze in the treetops and kept flames mostly on the ground, where ground crews can more easily control their spread, a spokesman said.
Firefighters found an old road grade above the fire, which helped them create a fire line. The fire line was expected to be finished by the end of Sunday, officials said.
And in Chelan County, a brush fire 12 miles southeast of Wenatchee at Colockum Pass grew to up to 10,000 acres and threatened about 60 structures, fire spokesman Rick Isaacson said.
Three homes and numerous outbuildings have been destroyed so far by the Colockum Tarps Fire, Isaacson said.
The cause of the fire, which started Saturday, is unknown.
About 220 firefighters from Chelan and Douglas counties as well as the Department of Natural Resources were working on the fire reported to be going in all different directions.