Crews work to better control Cle Elum fire
By Shannon Dininny
The Associated Press
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The Taylor Bridge Fire has burned an estimated 22,000 acres, or roughly 35 square miles, of diverse terrain, ranging from dry grasses to sagebrush and thick timber east of Cle Elum, about 75 miles east of Seattle.
The blaze was 25 percent contained Thursday morning, and fire management officers were working with local authorities to determine if some evacuated residents could return home and begin assessing the damage, fire spokesman Mark Grassel said.
Hundreds of residents have been evacuated since the fire started at a bridge construction site Monday. Fire officials have said at least 60 homes have burned, though the Kittitas County sheriff also has said an additional 10 homes had burned in one subdivision.
Grassel said firefighters were focused on strengthening lines at the fire's stubborn north flank, where it has burned into thick stands of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.
“They're really trying to button up that line so they feel more secure about it holding,” he said.
Laurie Plut said she doesn't feel out of danger just yet. The fire has been right at the timberline for two days, just beyond the wood cabin she and her husband have been building over the past 12 years.
The home sits in a collection of 40 lots, all but five of them vacation cabins. The area has been evacuated.
“We're still worried. It's extremely frustrating, but the firefighters have been working hard,” she said by telephone. “And we have to love them.”
On the fire's eastern edge, crews were reviewing the potential of going to patrol status, which means they're confident enough in the fire lines to simply watch for new fire starts and handle mop-up.
About 840 firefighters have been assigned to the fire. No injuries have been reported.
Fire officials have raised concerns about high temperatures that are forecast for today and possible lightning Saturday.
Near Grand Coulee Dam, about 100 firefighters worked a wildfire that has scorched across about 12 square miles. Nine structures were still threatened by the blaze Thursday, Colville tribal spokesman Kathy Moses said.
No one has been injured in the fire that broke out Tuesday evening near the community Elmer City and burned two outbuildings.
Last modified: August 16. 2012 2:41PM