UPDATE: Taylor Bridge Fire In Kittitas County
The “Taylor Bridge Fire,” as it is being called after welder’s sparks are the suspected cause on the afforementioned structure near Cle Elum, has now engulfed 28,000 acres – more than 41 square miles.
To give you some scope of the size, that is approximately twice as big a the city limits of Yakima times two!
The Washington State Department of Transportation has closed highway 97 in BOTH directions from north of Ellensburg. SR-97 is closed from Smithson Road to SR-970; SR-97 closed at SR-10, local traffic only. SR-970 is currently open.
Interstate 90 travelers wishing to continue to Wenatchee may do so via State Route 970.
Roughly 60 homes have been destroyed as the blaze continues to head towards Ellensburg.
Officials say the blaze is still at 0% containment.
Over 600 firefighters are on the scene, including more than 100 inmates from the Department of Corrections, according to a press conference this morning.
Evacuees are being sheltered at Munson Hall on the C.W.U. campus as well as the Ellensburg Senior Center.
Animals and pets are being sheltered at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds.
Because of the smoke, the Clean Air Authority has issued a Stage 1 Burn Ban for both the Upper and Lower Yakima County areas, due to residual smoke originating from the Cle Elum wildfire.
From KIMA Action News: FEMA has authorized use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for Taylor Bridge Fire. The request was approved early this morning.
At the time of the request, fire was threatening 500 homes (450 primary) east of the community of Cle Elum. The fire was also threatening major power transmission lines and a wind turbine power generating facility in the area. Approximately 200 people have evacuated the area, and three shelters are open.