Wildfire north of Selah burns more than 6,000 acres

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A fire north of Selah jumped from a couple hundred acres to over 6,000 in a matter of hours. As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, it was only 10 percent contained. High winds have been firefighters' biggest enemy. So far, damage is minimal.

The Cottonwood 2 fire made many uneasy as it rapidly spread. By Tuesday evening, it had consumed more than 6,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained.

"The extreme dryness of the fuels, the wind up here today, and of course no rain for a long period of time, everything is so dry," said Jody Taylor, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fire investigator.

So far, no homes have been destroyed. About a dozen residents were told to evacuate. But that doesn't mean homeowners weren't ready to leave.

"There was a couple times we were just ready to pack up and go," said Barb Moorman. "When the smoke got real thick and we weren't sure how close the flames were, yeah, we were ready to go."

One barn and one shop were lost to the fire.

The Yakima Valley Emergency Management director said the fire started on a shooting range at the end of Sheep Company Road. The official cause of the fire is under investigation.

It's estimated the fire could last for another two to three days. It's moved to the north side of the Wenas Valley ridge where it's not threatening any homes, unlike the story from earlier in the day.

"It just looked scary, because the whole hillside was filled with smoke," said Barb.

More than 100 firefighters were on the scene. That included four helicopters and two air tankers. A hotshot crew was also deployed. Flames and smoke could be seen from U.S. 12 as well as Interstates 90 and 82.

Selah residents are glad that is not the case anymore.

"I am thankful that my family is safe, I am, and I'm glad I have my house left," said Barb.

The American Red Cross had set up an emergency shelter at the Selah Civic Center, but a Red Cross spokesman told us they closed it because no one showed up.