Rattlesnake Hills wildfire burns 2,500 acres; 40 percent contained
UPDATE: Fire officials originally estimated the wildfire to be 5,500 acres and 25 percent contained. This story has been updated to reflect that it has actually burned 2,500 acres and is 40 percent contained.
MOXEE, Wash. – Fire crews are still battling a wildfire along Rattlesnake Hills in Moxee.
The blaze started at about 11 p.m. Wednesday and quickly swept across the ridge, burning thousands of acres by Thursday evening.
Fire officials said the wildfire has burned 2,500 acres and is about 40 percent contained. They said it started on Thorp Road and rapidly spread over the ridge into East Valley.
Firefighters were at the scene all day, many of them for more than 12 hours.
“It ran all night long across both sides and toward Konnowac Pass,” said East Valley Fire Department Lieutenant Keith Schrank. “We've had from one foot to six and seven-foot flame lengths.”
Fire crews from the upper and lower valley have been fighting the flames, including 200 firefighters, several hand crews, three bull dozers, and three helicopters.
“Up on the top there was a lot of sage brush up there and that made for some very hot conditions on the top of the ridge,” said Fire District 5 firefighter Andy Babcock.
Triple-digit weather and low humidity has made the fire even more dangerous for crews.
“Just keeping everybody hydrated and safe, that's a big concern for us,” said Lt. Schrank.
No injuries or homes have burned, but an evacuation warning was in effect for about 25 homeowners as firefighters cautioned people to be ready to leave.
Fire commanders have also asked the community to hold off on burning anything outdoors.
“I know there's not a burn ban in effect right now, but we need to really watch outdoor burning - if you don't have to do it, please don't do it,” said Lt. Schrank.
Fire crews from Kittitas County and the Westside have sent in strike teams. State agencies have also helped, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
“We have burn crews; they follow up behind us and they burn off the unburned fuel on our dozer line so we can get a good, hard line in,” said Babcock.
Mutual aid support to relieve local firefighters as they fight one wildfire at a time.
Fire officials said the cause of the fire is unknown at this time. They said wildfires really strain resources so they want to put the word out there that all fire districts in Yakima County are seeking applications for volunteer firefighters.
You can contact your local district for more information on how to get involved.