243 Fire evacuation notices lifted, Smyrna still under level 2
GRANT COUNTY, WA — All evacuation notices, except for the level 2 evacuation in Smyrna, have been lifted for Grant County residents affected by the 243 Fire.
The fire, which is burning near Vantage, has burned 18,774 acres as of Thursday morning, according to the Washington Department of Natural Resources and Grant County Sheriff’s Office. Fire officials said the fire is now 50 percent contained.
Fire crews have managed to contain it primarily to the canyon.
The fire was first reported by several drivers near the Wanapum Dam Monday night. It’s unclear what sparked it.
Close to 400 personnel, as well as two fire bosses, multiple helicopters, one air tanker and air attack responded to help fight the fire. On Wednesday, WADNR said the Bureau of Land Management was assisting by sending two helicopter, two fire bosses, 20 firefighters and two strike teams of engines.
Strong winds caused the fire to balloon overnight Monday, growing from 300 acres at 9:00 p.m. to 3,000 acres by 4:00 a.m. Tuesday. Late Tuesday morning, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office said the fire had grown even larger, to 5,000 acres. On Wednesday, after nearly 24 hours without an update, officials said it has reached 18,774 acres. That acreage remained the same during the Thursday morning update.
“Fires move very fast here and when the wind’s pushing it, the heat from the flames will preheat the fuel ahead of it so by the time the flames actually reach there, those fuels ignite,” said Kyle Foreman, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.
Foreman said several outbuildings had been lost, but no homes have been burned and there have been no reports of injuries. The fire is burning mixed grass and sage and is threatening homes, crops and infrastructure. Foreman said deputies were going door to door telling people in the evacuation zone to leave their homes and assisting with the removal of livestock.
“Firefighting at night in a wildfire is very dangerous so progress was good but was not as good as it could’ve been had it been in daylight,” said Foreman.
Firefighting aircraft drew water from the upper pool of Wanapum Dam. The public was asked to stay away from that area. The sheriff’s office asked that drone enthusiasts stay away from the fire area; if drones are in the air, fire crews are unable to fly and that hinders getting the fire out.
Beverly Burke Fire North of SR 243 https://t.co/h9iaH3Hxco
— Darrik Gregg (@ChiefDepGregg) June 4, 2019
On Tuesday, the wildfire prompted level 2 and 3 evacuations in the Smyrna, Beverly, Schawana and Wanapum Village areas.
On Thursday, all evacuations were lifted except for people living in Smyrna; as of 9:00 a.m. Thursday, Smyrna remained on a level 2 evacuation notice.
The Red Cross opened a shelter for anyone affected by evacuation orders. The shelter, at Royal City Intermediate School ( 26 Rd 12 SW, Royal City) is open for those needing assistance.
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