Rain helped firefighting efforts Friday on the Schneider Springs Fire as it surpassed 100,000 acres.
The area saw its first rain in weeks Friday. While the precipitation helped fire crews, it didn’t put the fire out, said Megan Walker, a public information officer.
“The main thing that’s helping is the clouds and shade cover and relative humidity. It’s still burning, but it’s a nice breather,” she said Friday afternoon. “Projected weather for next few days is warm and dry again.”
The fire was 101,633 acres with 17% containment as of Friday morning. No structures have been lost. The fire was caused by lightning on Aug. 3 and is 18 miles northwest of Naches.
Attention has focused on the north end of the fire this week, with new evacuation and forest closures orders issued Wednesday and Thursday. Walker said the fire burned over the edge of American Ridge on the northwest end near Bumping River Road. Crews were concerned the fire would move quickly down the ridge, but it is slowly backing down, giving firefighters time to work on containment lines and get extra crews into the area, she said.
A total of 684 people were assigned to the fire on Friday. A new Type 2 firefighting team, Northwest Team 10, will take over management of the fire on Saturday and has been shadowing Pacific Northwest Team 2 as it rotates out.
Several Type 1 crews are expected to arrive from Canada to assist in priority areas, a Friday update said.
Evacuations and closures
Evacuation levels increased Wednesday. Level 3 “go now” orders are in place along the Bumping River Road corridor and the State Route 410 corridor between Little Naches and Rock Creek. Level 2 “get set” notices for all residents along State Route 410 between Little Naches and Wash Creek, according to Yakima Valley Emergency Management. The notice covers both sides of State Road 410. Level 1 “be ready” notices are in effect along U.S. Highway 12 and the rest of 410 to the Y.
U.S. Forest Service land in the fire area between State Route 410 and Highway 12 are closed. The forest closure was increased Thursday north of American Ridge to 410, with the closure going up Forest Road 1900 (Little Naches) to 1902 and west to the 953/951 system. It includes a portion of the Norse Peak Wilderness. Those roads are still open.
Forest Service land south of Highway 12 including Rimrock and Clear lakes is open, along with recreation on the Tieton River. The Pacific Crest Trail is open.
Smoke from the fire is continuing to cause unhealthy air quality in the Yakima area, though rain helped clear out smoke particles on Friday.
An update from forecasters said conditions will continue to better in the afternoons and evenings.
“Especially in the Naches Valley, if you plan to exercise or perform physical work outdoors, you may want to consider staying inside during the morning and exercise or work later in the day when the air is clearer, the report said.