Wildfire raging in Kittitas County
A fast-moving wildfire driven by high winds was burning east of Cle Elum in Central Washington, reportedly destroying about 60 homes.
CLE ELUM, Kittitas County — A fast-moving wildfire driven by high winds was burning east of Cle Elum in Central Washington, reportedly destroying about 60 homes and scorching nearly 26,000 acres.
Dry vegetation was fueling the fire on steep terrain, making it difficult for firefighters to knock it down. Firefighters had zero containment of the fire Monday evening.
The fire near Highway 10 started about 1:15 p.m. and quickly spread at a rate of about 30 mph, jumping over Highway 97.
All nearby homeowners were ordered to evacuate, said Richelle Risdon, spokeswoman for Kittitas County Fire District 7. Evacuation areas include Swauk Valley, Prairie Valley, Bettas Road Hidden Valley and Ellensburg Ranches Road. Evacuees were told that they could go to the Cle Elum Centennial Center and that animals could be taken to the Kittitas County fairgrounds in Ellensburg.
The Kittitas County Sheriff's Office was advising people in the fire's path to leave their homes, according to the Daily Record newspaper of Ellensburg.
If homeowners are unsure whether to evacuate, they should do so, Risdon advised.
Central Washington University was coordinating with local authorities to house evacuees, according to the Daily Record.
Strike teams from King County, Yakima, Selah and other areas were called in, and several air units — three helicopters and a fixed-wing airplane — joined the fight, Mark Grassel, with the state Department of Natural Resources, told the Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper. Additional firefighters were being called up.
Grassel said the fire was burning about four miles east of Cle Elum and headed away from that community.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.