The state has mobilized fire crews to fight a fast-moving brush fire south of Bickleton, in Klickitat County, that has burned more than 240 acres, fire officials said Sunday.
The Juniper Fire started Saturday afternoon and is burning in grass and brush in the Pine Creek Drainage south of the Yakama Indian Reservation, said Ben Shearer, a public-information officer for a state incident-management team put in place late Saturday by Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste at the request of Klickitat Fire District No. 2.
Shearer said dry, hot winds Sunday have made for significant fire activity, and the blaze grew to nearly 242 acres. Earlier estimates had the fire at nearly 500 acres, but Shearer said more accurate mapping on Sunday downsized it. A Level 3 evacuation order – meaning residents are to leave immediately – was in place for the threatened structures. Shearer said seven individuals were affected, however, some of them were involved in fighting the fire.
Shearer said about 201 firefighters were on the scene, using engines and bulldozers to attempt to cut a fire line. Shearer said additional firefighters are being mobilized to watch the fire overnight, anticipating a cold front later Monday that will bring increased winds. The main effort has gone toward keeping the fire out of a drainage that leads into the town of Bickleton, which has a population of about 88 people. The fire started Saturday afternoon near an area where fire was seen coming from a wind turbine nearly 300 feet off the ground, according to officials and local media. The turbine is part of a wind farm operated by Philadelphia-based Avan Grid.
JUST IN: #JuniperFire in Klickitat Co. started at 1:40 this afternoon. Smoke was seen coming from a wind turbine generator south of Bickleton. Dispatch says fire engulfed the turbine 300 feet above the ground. Melted sections of the wind turbine fell to the ground.
— John Hendricks (@JohnKPTV) July 21, 2019
Shearer is part of a Type 3 Incident Management Team that assumed command of firefighting efforts early Sunday. The incident commander is Leonard Johnson.