MALAGA — Trucks pulling livestock trailers weaved through a crowd of fire trucks along Colockum Road today as people scrambled to get cattle out of the way of a sprawling wildland fire.
“The fire is burning right at the end of our driveway,” KreeAnn Harrell said as she and her husband and their two dogs evacuated their home on Tarpiscan Road. “There’s only one way out of there, so it was time to go.”
The three-alarm fire has burned an estimated 2,000 acres and two structures near Colockum and Tarpiscan roads. Two retardant tankers, three helicopters and two airplanes have been assigned to the blaze, along with rural fire crews from Chelan and Douglas counties, the Wenatchee Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, federal Bureau of Land Management and state Department of Natural Resources.
Residents of Colockum, Tarpiscan and Kingsbury roads were under Level 3 mandatory evacuation, though property owners were being allowed in.
By late morning, the fire could be seen burning close to the intersection of the two roads, where the fire command was set up. Land was blackened right up to several homes and farm structures that were being protected by firefighters and trucks.
Several private vehicles pulling livestock trailers were allowed into the fire area. The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society also had a crew on hand to help evacuate animals from the area.
Chelan County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Mathews said crews were on their way to help a rancher near the top of Colockum Road evacuate his cattle.
The fire was first reported around 8 a.m. Saturday about a mile and a half beyond the intersection of Colockum and Tarpiscan roads. The cause is still under investigation.
It was burning mostly dried grass and sagebrush as it moved across steep hillsides and up narrow canyons and draws. One of the structures that burned was an unoccupied double-wide mobile home located near the intersection. Mathews said he did not know whether the other burned structure was a home or outbuilding.
Glenn England, who grew up in the Colockum and is now a volunteer for Chelan County Fire District 1, said the fire has a lot of room to spread through the dry, hilly landscape. He said a major concern was a farm in the path of the fire that has a number of old vehicles and piles of old utility poles.
“If it gets into there, we’re going to have some problems,” he said.