400 firefighters battling central Washington wildfire
GRANT COUNTY, Wash. — Fire crews and resources from across the entire state are in central Washington trying to protect homes and crops. There are about 400 crew members working to fight the 243 Fire near Vantage.
No substantial fire growth has been reported for the past 24 hours. As of Thursday morning, the fire was still officially estimated at 18,774 acres. The fire is 50 percent contained.
Crews are working day and night to stop it from spreading further. Firefighters are working on the ground and in the air, using multiple helicopters and an air tanker. Two minor injuries have been reported but it is not clear if those injuries were to firefighters or citizens.
As of early Wednesday, no homes had been damaged though one garage had been lost.
Officials said homes, crops, and “many natural and commercial resources” are all still at risk. Besides the many farm and agricultural lands, the fire has impacted land important to the migrating Monarch butterfly and protected ground squirrels. A release from the fire’s command post said, “Crews have been briefed on the sensitivity and value of the area and are doing their best to minimize damage from fire and mitigation efforts.”
High voltage power lines poles, train trestles, and other infrastructure is also threatened.
The fire is burning in a canyon, which crews said is helping contain it but the that steep terrain and winds are also making it a difficult fire fight. “The wind is of course compounding the problem, we also have very dry fuel on the ground which is sage brush, cheek grass, the terrain isn’t very good in some places so it makes it difficult to get to the fire,” said Grant County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Kyle Foreman.
No new evacuation orders have been issued since Tuesday morning. Level three notices remain in place for people on Beverly Burke Road and in the Smyrna area.
Several evacuees are using a Red Cross shelter at the Royal City Intermediate School. Livestock that have been evacuated are being housed at the grant county fairgrounds.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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