Fire crews are continuing to battle a brush fire south of Bickleton, in Klickitat County, that has burned more than 253 acres, fire officials said Monday. As of Monday evening, the fire was 80% contained.
Ben Shearer, a public-information officer for a state incident-management team put in place late Saturday, said the fire is reducing in size and mostly consists of hot spots. He said response would be downgraded Tuesday evening.
No structures have been damaged, but 39 residences were threatened at the height of the fire. A Level 3 evacuation order — meaning residents are to leave immediately — was downgraded to a Level 1 order Monday evening. Residences were no longer threatened but Shearer said people should be ready to evacuate if conditions suddenly get worse, especially since stormy weather is possible on Tuesday.
The Juniper fire started Saturday afternoon and has been burning in grass and brush in the Pine Creek Drainage area south of the Yakama Indian Reservation, Shearer said. The cause is still under investigation.
The fire started near an area where fire was seen coming from a wind turbine nearly 300 feet off the ground, according to officials and local media. The turbine is part of a wind farm operated by Philadelphia-based Avan Grid.
Shearer said dry, hot winds Sunday made for significant fire activity, and the blaze grew to about 253 acres. Earlier estimates had the fire at nearly 500 acres, but Shearer said more accurate mapping on Sunday downsized it.
About 201 firefighters have been on the scene, using engines and bulldozers to attempt to cut a fire line, Shearer said. Additional firefighters were mobilized Sunday to watch the fire overnight, anticipating a cold front and increased winds later Monday, he said.
“The fire was stable and crews were able to work safely, with no injuries,” Shearer wrote in a Monday morning update.
The main effort has gone toward keeping the fire out of a drainage that leads into the town of Bickleton, which has a population of about 88 people.
A state incident-management team was put in place that night by Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste at the request of Klickitat Fire District No. 2.
Seattle Times staff reporter Asia Fields contributed to this report.