30 homes evacuated as forest fire grows to 2,000 acres

GOLDENDALE, Wash. -- A forest fire near Goldendale has forced 30 homes to evacuate in the Box Canyon Road area. Officials say the fire has burned 2,000 acres as of late Thursday afternoon.

The Department of Transportation has closed 50 miles of Highway 97 from Toppenish to Goldendale.

"It's more intense, different fuel, a lot dryer, you know we're at a haines index of 5 today, so this thing just got out and moved, it's pretty intense," said Don Jones, Yakama Nation Fire Chief.

The fire is on tribal lands and is moving to the east. However, if the wind changes directions the fire would hit DNR land to the west, which would put homes at risk.

Fire officials told KIMA this is one of the worst fires they've seen in a while. As of Thursday morning, there was no containment.

Currently there are about 50 personnel fighting the fire. There is a mixture of DNR personnel, Yakama Nation Fire management, and an Ahtanum Crew. There are also three helicopters assisting.

"It could burn for a while with the weather we've got. Right now we're handling with local resources and trying to do the best we can with what we have," said Jones.

Here's what you'd see if you could drive on US 97 right now. Fire, smoke on both sides keeping hwy closed near Satus

WSDOT - SW Region (@wsdot_sw) July 25, 2013

Looking back at 2011: Monastery Complex Fire

Fire devastated the area region back in 2011. The Monastery Complex Fire burned nearly 30 homes.

Officials said the fire burned more than 5,000 acres - about 20 miles north of the Columbia River near Goldendale.

That fire started near a Greek Orthodox monastery. From there, it burned southeast of Highway 97 through steep forested canyons and flat areas with dry grass and thick trees.