Firefighters made substantial progress Tuesday on a wildfire on the Yakima Training Center, even as they fought another fire in the Naches Ranger District and cleared out after a blaze near Granger.
With the Ahtanum Ridge fire contained, officials are assessing the damage.
Along with two homes and about five outbuildings, at least 200 fruit trees were lost to the blaze, according to Horace Ward, operations manager with the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management.
“I’m still trying to put together some cost estimates for the property loss and damage up there; that’s still a work in progress,” said Ward.
“The cost loss might be pretty significant based on those fruit trees,” he said.
The Ahtanum Ridge fire started 10 miles east of Union Gap and took off as high winds hit the area around 8 p.m. Sunday. Evacuation orders were issued for homes south of Ahtanum Road. The fire was contained Monday and blackened 5,971 acres, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.
It was human-caused, the coordination center said.
A wildfire on the Yakima Training Center known as the Taylor Pond Fire had burned 24,892 acres as of Tuesday afternoon, which was an updated estimate from that morning due to better GPS mapping, officials said.
Residents of Wanapum Village living immediately southeast of the Training Center were told to evacuate Monday to the east side of the Columbia River, according to a news release from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. At that point, about 20 residences were threatened.
But because of firefighters’ substantial progress Tuesday, authorities permitted the Wanapum Village evacuation orders to be lowered to a level 1 as of 2 p.m.
In an update shortly after 4 p.m., the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team said progress by firefighters Tuesday meant they were able to able to keep the fire on the Yakima Training Center.
The fire was sparked by lighting Sunday night and is burning in the areas of Yakima Ridge and Taylor Pond at the southernmost point to Alkali Canyon on the north side of Umtanum Ridge.
“Resources made unexpected progress despite the triple digit temps while working today. The big push today was for improvement of the containment lines on all portions of the fire perimeter,” the update said. “Crews have been able to keep the fire on the Yakima Training Center installation, and with in the perimeter that was given them today.”
Residents should still monitor the situation in case something happens and be ready to leave if notified, according to the update.
The fire was at 75% containment, officials said. They also noted a reduced number of acres burned thanks to better GPS mapping. On Tuesday morning, a news release from Joint Base Lewis-McChord said 34,792 acres were blackened.
“Firefighting resources have been aggressively fighting fire day and night. The fire growth has been greatly reduced, and as a result resources were able to spend some time getting good GPS mapping information of the perimeter,” the update said. “As a result, you can see that our acreage count has dropped. We are currently at 24,892. This is directly the result of the better mapping information.”
A night shift was set to patrol the fire perimeter and mop up any areas that may flare back up late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, authorities said.
“If the fire holds overnight, the incident management team will start releasing resources to travel back home or off to other fires as needed,” the afternoon update said.
Jungle Creek fire in the Little Naches Crews continued to battle a wildfire in the Jungle Creek area near the Little Naches drainage in the Naches Ranger District.
The blaze, called the Jungle Creek Fire, had expanded to between 90 and 100 acres late Tuesday afternoon and continued to produce heavy smoke visible from Interstate 90 and in and near Naches, Yakima, Ellensburg and Cle Elum.
In an afternoon update from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, officials said aircraft were effectively working with crews on the steep ground of the fire, which is burning in heavy timber. Its cause is under investigation.
There was minimal fire growth overnight and the anchor points held, according to an update earlier Tuesday. And though the blaze grew through Tuesday, firefighters had strong support from aircraft, said Robin DeMario, public affairs specialist for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
“They were making good progress building the fire line adjacent to the fire itself,” DeMario said. “They’ve been able to utilize a lot of aviation assets today, which was good, using the helicopters and single engine air tankers and whatever other assets they have.
“It’s hot and we’ll just have to see how things continue as they continue their firefighting efforts,” she added.
Authorities continue to warn campers and others against traveling in the Road 1900 area above the junction with State Route 410 and Little Naches Road 1900.
The Tule Road fire south of Granger was in mop-up status Monday and Yakima County Fire District 5 staff cleared the scene Tuesday morning. It burned an estimated 702 acres and was human-caused, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center
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