Fire information meeting tonight
An informational meeting for residents affected by the Colockum Tarps Fire will be held tonight in Malaga.
Power could be out until this evening in Colockum area
COLOCKUM — About 65 homes in the Colockum/Tarpiscan burn area may not see power restored until at least this evening, as crews work to replace poles that burned in the Colockum-Tarps fire, south of Wenatchee.
Red Cross shelter ready for evacuees
WENATCHEE — Four members of a family from the scorched Tarpiscan Canyon area were the first evacuees to seek emergency relief in a shelter set up here Saturday by the Apple Valley Chapter of the American ...
Update, 1:45 p.m. The Colockum Tarps Fire has grown to 25,000 acres and is spreading unchecked to the south as fire officials work on a plan to contain it before it reaches a wind farm closer to Vantage.
Fire crews and helicopters were focusing their efforts today on building containment lines on the west side of the fire to keep it out of forested lands. But no fire resources have been assigned to keep the major front of the fire form moving south, said fire spokeswoman Karen Ripley.
“They did an assessment of the values at risk to decide where to put staff,” she said.
Road access south of the fire is limited, so it would be difficult and dangerous to put ground crews ahead of the fire, she added. Fire officials will work on a plan to stop the fire’s spread today and may start working on it tonight or tomorrow, Ripley said. The goal is to stop the fire at Quilomene Ridge north of the Wild Horse wind farm. The fire is currently about eight miles from the farm.
Ripley said the fire moved four miles to the south on Sunday, so fire officials believe they have about two days until the fire could potentially reach the wind farm.
Update, 10:30 a.m.: Fire is now estimated at 20,000 acres. Four helicopters are dumping water on the fire, with two more on the way.
MALAGA — Fire officials on Monday are hoping to get a better look at a fast moving wildland fire that has mostly moved away from homes in the Colockum and Tarpiscan areas.
The Colockum Tarps Fire is estimated at 15,000 acres, but its exact size is not known because it is obscured by heavy smoke, said fire spokeswoman Karen Ripley. The fire has prompted a new round of evacuations and road closures in Kittitas County.
A national fire team took over management of the fire early Monday morning.
Ripley said today’s strategy is to keep the fire from moving into forested areas to the west of Colockum Pass and to keep it from cresting Quilomene Ridge to the south. A helicopter will fly over the southern portion of the fire to get a better picture of its boundaries.
Bulldozers are cutting fire containment lines and fire crews are digging lines and setting backfires to reinforce lines along the northern and western sides of the fire, she said.
However, “The southern portion of the fire is unstaffed,” she added. No fire crews are working in the path of the fire as it is pushed south by steady and unpredictable winds.
About 65 homes along Tarpiscan, Colockum Pass and Kingsbury roads remain under the highest level of evacuation because there is still some fire burning in the area, but also because of the number of fire and utility crews working in the area.
Fire officials are still saying three primary residences, two unoccupied homes and numerous outbuildings have burned. Local residences are saying four of the homes were occupied.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state Department of Natural Resources.
The camp for fire crews was moved on Sunday from Wenatchee High School to Pioneer Middle School across the street at the request of the school district, Ripley said. The 300-person camp will likely stay in Wenatchee, even though the fire has moved to the south, because road access from the south is not good, she said.
Michelle McNiel: 664-7152
Colockum fire growing faster than expected in wind
Sunday, 8:40 p.m.
A sprawling, wind-driven brush fire is spreading faster than fire officials were expecting and could reach the Crescent Bar area tonight.
“It’s a very dangerous and a very large fire,” fire spokesman Rick Isaacson said tonight.
“It’s moving too fast, there’s too much wind and too much fast-burning fuel to get ahead of it,” he added.
The fire is still estimated at 10,000 acres — largely because smoke prevented an aerial survey of acreage — and is likely much larger, he said.
The fire has moved beyond the north fork of the Tarpiscan and is expected to reach West Bar, an area across the Columbia River from Crescent Bar, tonight, Isaacson said.
No additional homes burned today, though four occupied and one unoccupied home burned Saturday, along with countless outbuildings.
Isaacson said the fire is now burning in critical elk and wild turkey habitat.
“It would be a shame to lose all that,” he said. “It’s very important to the environment.”
The fire is moving toward the Wild Horse Wind Farm in the Quilomene area. Isaacson said it was “very conceivable” that the fire will reach the wind farm.
The winds started kicking up around 5 p.m. and were pushing the fire quickly through the dried grasses and brush.
“The fire is moving very fast right now,” he said around 8 p.m. “It’s moved a lot farther south than we’d originally thought.”
Three helicopters dropped water on the fire today, but tankers were not used today, he said. He said the tankers are expensive to operate and are not overly effective on these kind of fast-moving fires.
Michelle McNiel: 664-7152