Firefighters Battles on the Cle Elum’s Taylor Bridge Wildfire
Firefighters continue to battle the Taylor Bridge fire burned across more than 40 square miles and now at 10 percent containment. Investigators are confident that it started a bridge construction site on Taylor Road in Cle Elum. The cause is still unknown and currently under investigation. The blaze didn’t leave much behind. Officials tell our News Partner KIMA Action News the nature of this fire combined with the 30 mph wind is not only posing a danger to residents and their homes, but also to those fighting the flames.
“The problem today is still the same as it was yesterday; the fire is still growing under the force of the wind that is driving the fire. It’s very difficult if not impossible to stop a fire at the head. The best thing we can do is to try to contain the flanks of the fire and start to narrow it down,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.
By Wednesday morning, about 600 firefighters will have their boots on the ground.
“The opportunity to call Oregon or possibly the state of Idaho or Montana is not possible this time. We’re kind of on our own, but the state in total has responded very rapidly here,” says Commissioner Goldmark.
Governor Gregoire has declared a state of emergency allowing use of additional resources and mobilization of the National Guard.
“My heart goes out to all the homeowners that have either lost their homes or have homes at risk now. I was out at the head of the fire here and there are still homes being consumed, so it’s a dangerous situation,” Goldmark says.
One evacuee, James Ihrkey, remains surprisingly optimistic considering the circumstances.
“The hardest part about it is probably going to be watching my first house burn, but even if I go up there and it’s all ash, I’m insured. So when you get down to the bottom line, I lost all the useless stuff in the closets and everything else is going to be rebuilt. That’s all there is to it,” said Ihrkey.
He says he’s just glad they had time to pack their belongs, but more importantly he’s grateful that his family is safe.
In addition to the 70 or so homes that have been lost, officials believe hundreds of outbuildings have also been consumed by the flames. At least 900 people have been evacuated as the fire burns in grassland, timber and sagebrush east of Cle Elum. No injuries have been reported.
There will be two public meetings held tonight. The first meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the Cle Elum High School gym, and the other at the Central Washington University Student Union Recreation Center at 7 p.m.