Hundreds of people were evacuated and major highways closed in the state Monday as firefighters battled new wildfires exacerbated by high winds and dry conditions.
Over the past two days, state fire mobilizations were called for the Babb Road Fire near Spangle in Spokane County, the Apple Acres Fire near Chelan, the Whitney Fire near Davenport in Lincoln County, the Colfax Fire in Whitman County and the Pearl Hill-Cold Springs Fire in Okanogan County, according to the state fire marshal’s office.
Most of the smoke and dust in the Yakima Valley on Monday were from fires from the northeast, including in Omak, Douglas, Chelan and Grant counties, local officials said.
Fire near Prosser
A rural neighborhood a couple of miles east of Prosser, south of the Old Inland Empire Highway and north of the Yakima River and Interstate 82, was evacuated late Monday afternoon because of wildfire, the Tri-City Herald reported.
About 6:15 p.m. the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office said Interstate 82 was closed in both directions just south of the Columbia River for 10 miles because of wildfire.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said several houses in the Basin City area about 20 miles north of the Tri-Cities were burning about 5 p.m.
Drivers were asked to avoid the area as multiple firetrucks were arriving. Residents of the area were being given instructions in case of an evacuation.
The Washington state Department of Transportation also closed State Route 221 from Prosser to Paterson because of visibility problems from the dust and smoke; no further details were available.
Earlier in the day, a several-car pileup blocked U.S. Highway 395 south of Ritzville. The highway was closed in both directions before noon Monday and DOT said southbound lanes remained closed at 5 p.m.
Pearl Hill-Cold Springs Fire/Okanogan area
A wildfire threatened the towns of Bridgeport and Mansfield in Douglas County after it started Sunday night in Okanogan County, grew to 10,000 acres and jumped the Columbia River, The Spokesman-Review reported.
The Cold Springs-Canyon Pearl Hill Fire started about 3 miles south of Omak about 9 p.m., according to the Mount Tolman Fire Dispatch Center.
By 12:30 p.m. Monday, both towns were without power after numerous reports of downed power lines, and authorities ordered residents to evacuate as a wall of smoke and dust towered over the area.
By 2 p.m. the fire had reached the South Jameson Lake drainage area and was progressing toward U.S. Highway 2. Bridgeport and Mansfield were under Level 3 evacuation orders, meaning “get out now.” Authorities were beginning to order evacuations for residents of the Moses Coulee and Rimrock Meadows areas.
Whitney Fire/Lincoln County
Just before 2 p.m., the state Department of Natural Resources reported another fire, dubbed the Whitney Fire, had burned about 600 acres of timber, brush, grass and crops near Davenport, The Spokesman-Review reported. The DNR said the fire was still growing, and Level 2 evacuation notices were in place for about 100 threatened homes.
Beverly-Burke Fire/Grant County
A new 500-acre wildfire was burning near the community of Beverly along the Columbia River in Grant County as of Monday afternoon. A Level 1 (get ready) notice was issued to the communities of Beverly, Shwana and Wanapum Village, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.