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Wildfire Season Blazes Into The Northwest

A crew at the Olympic National Park fires that have been burning for about a week.
National Park Service
A crew at the Olympic National Park fires that have been burning for about a week.

Several wildfires have broken out throughout Washington and Oregon this weekend after high heat, low humidity, and strong winds picked up.

A large wildfire is burning toward the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The Range 12 Fire started at the Yakima Training Center in Yakima County and quickly spread to Grant and Benton counties.

On Sunday evening, Washington State Department of Natural Resources estimated the fire had scorched 60,000 acres. The wildfire is burning in a sparsely populated area that is mostly rangeland. As of Sunday afternoon, the Yakima County Emergency Operations Center reportedthe wind-driven flames had threatened about 50 homes and actually damaged one unspecified structure.

Crews are working to keep the fire from burning onto a secure area of Hanford. Benton County emergency officials say they are not worried about the fire reaching the contaminated area of the nuclear reservation.

Closed highways, ash on cars

Washington State Routes 24 and 241 were closed Sunday and were expected to remain closed over Sunday night. The Washington Department of Transportation said crews would re-evaluate the road closures on Monday.

Smoke was visible in the Tri-Cities Sunday and residents woke up to a light dusting of ash on their cars.

Another large fire is burning near Odessa, Washington. According to the Grant County Sheriff, the Black Rock Road fire is burning more than 23,000 acres in Grant County. As of Sunday afternoon the fire was 40 percent contained.

Crews Saturday were able to keep the Black Rock Road fire from spreading into sensitive sagebrush lands, including sage grouse habitat. The fire threatened 25 homes, crops and livestock. The cause is unknown.

Officials expect the wind to pick up on Monday, so firefighters are working to dig line that will help contain the fire. The sheriff’s office said the fire was not as active Sunday afternoon.

Other fires burning in the Northwest include:

  • A fire 10 miles north of Warm Springs, Oregon. The Rattlesnake fire has burned 9,325 acres and is 95 percent contained. The fire started last Sunday and is likely human-caused.
  • The Weigh Station fire has burned about 500 acres east of Pendleton, Oregon and is 25 percent contained. After nearly 24 hours of closure, the Oregon Department of Transportation re-opened Interstate 84 to all traffic on Sunday afternoon. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
  • The Antilon Lake fire is burning more than 500 acres roughly 10 miles north of Chelan, Washington. This fire is likely human-caused.
  • A 325-acre wildfire is burning on the west side of Crater Lake National Park. The Bybee firewas 5 percent contained as of Sunday morning. The cause is being investigated, but is likely due to an escaped campfire according to the incident management team.
  • More than 300 acres are burning near Dayton, Washington. The fire had threatened 125 residences, but people have now been allowed to return to their homes.
  • A storm system caused several smaller fires in Olympic National Park. More than 400 lightning strikes on July 21 caused four fires that smoldered undetected for about a week. Once the weather warmed the fires became more active. The Godkin fire is burning 90 acres along the Elwha River south of Port Angeles, the Hayes fire is burning 150 acres on a ridgeline south of Port Angeles, the Cox Valley fire is burning 10 acres south of Port Angeles, and the Ignar Creek fire is burning half an acre northeast of Lake Quinault.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Courtney Flatt