Fire at a glance
Colockum Tarps Fire as of this morning
Size: 42,663 acres
Containment: 5 percent
Damage: 3 or 4 primary residences and numerous outbuildings destroyed
Evacuations: About 65 homes under Level 3 along Colockum Pass, Tarpiscan and Kingsbury roads; lower levels of evacuation on undetermined number of homes in Kittitas County.
Origin: Started around 8 a.m. Saturday in the 7100 block of Colockum Pass Road.
Cause: Under investigation
Fire aid: Red Cross, restaurant, photographers offer services
Local agencies and businesses have leaped to help victims of the Colockum Tarpiscan Fire.
Update, 8:45 p.m. Tuesday: Winds and stormy weather pushed the Colockum Tarps fire farther to the south and west today, causing it to grow to about 60,000 acres.
The fire has now crossed Quilomene Ridge Road to the south and is spreading into forested drainages to the west.
In additional to digging containment lines, firefighters are focusing on protecting structures, three power transmission lines, two wind farms, a natural gas line and cultural resources along the Columbia River, according to fire officials.
Three 20-person Hot Shot crews arrived today to join the 400 fire personnel now assigned to the fire.
Tuesday morning: WENATCHEE — Firefighters will begin building containment lines in front of the sprawling Colockum Tarps Fire today, the first effort to stop its southerly advance since its start early Saturday.
Elite U.S. Forest Service Hot Shot crews — one from Entiat and two from Oregon — will hike into the rugged, remote area south of the fire today, said fire spokesman Jeff Sevigney.
The blaze is now almost 43,000 acres and covers some 67 square miles of mostly uninhabited sage and grasslands. After growing rapidly in gusty winds over the weekend, the fire slowed on Monday and overnight.
But with wind and thunderstorms in the forecast for later this week, the fire could still take off, fire officials are warning. It’s growth potential is still considered to be “extreme.”
“There is a huge amount of fire left out there,” Mike Asher, the fire’s operations chief, said Monday after a community meeting in Malaga. “With the winds associated with some of the weather systems expected in the next few days, we don’t know what it might deal us,”
Level 3 evacuations remain in place for about 65 homes along Colockum Pass, Tarpiscan and Kingsbury roads, and only residents who can prove with identification that they live in the burned area getting past a road block about 11 miles south of Wenatchee.
The fire was reported around 8 a.m. Saturday about a mile and a half beyond the junction of Tarpiscan and Colockum Pass roads. Pushed by erratic winds, the fire spread quickly in all directions, fought by firefighters from around the region. A statewide mobilization was ordered on Saturday, bringing in more crews from across the state.
A Type 2 team took over management of the fire Monday morning and is headquartered at Pioneer Middle School.
The initial firefighting efforts were focused on protecting the rural homes and properties in the fire’s path. As it moved away from most homes, the goal was to keep the fire from moving out of the grasslands into the forests to the west. The fire has been allowed to spread largely unchecked to the south because it is still several miles away from structures in Kittitas County. Fire officials hope to keep the fire from crossing Quilomene Ridge to the south, Sevigney said.
Crews have completed fire containment lines along the northern flank of the fire and made “substantial” progress to the west on Monday, Sevigney said.
“If the fire gets into that timber, we can’t stop it with the present conditions,” Asher said Monday.
Michelle McNiel: 664-7152
World reporter Christine Pratt contributed to this story.