Evans Canyon Fire burns at least 12,000 acres, threatens 140 homes in the Wenas area
WENAS AREA, Wash. — The Evans Canyon Fire has burned thousands of acres of land in the Wenas area, about eight miles north of Naches, and is threatening about 140 homes as of Tuesday afternoon.
As of Tuesday night, officials say the fire had grown to an estimated 12,000 acres and is zero percent contained. At least 5 buildings have burned.
The fire started Monday afternoon about 2:30 p.m. and is spreading quickly due to wind and weather conditions. Emergency officials said it’s threatening 140 structures, as well as power lines, radio towers and crops.
As of Tuesday afternoon, all homes north of Wenas Lake are under a Level 3 GO NOW evacuation notice, which asks residents to leave immediately for their safety. All homes south of Stagecoach RV Park to the Wenas Dam and on Sheep Company Road north of the Wenas to Longmire Lane are under a Level 2 BE READY evacuation notice, which asks residents to get ready to evacuate in case conditions change.
Evacuees can park at Selah Middle School, 411 N. First St. in Selah, where the American Red Cross will offer assistance. Any evacuees with farm animals or RVs can head to State Fair Park, which has stable space and RV parking available.
For more information on evacuations, call 509-574-1919.
The fire has also spread over the county line to Kittitas County. No homes are under evacuation notice Tuesday afternoon, but the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office has issued Level 1 and 2 evacuation notices in the Umptanum and Durr Road public recreation areas. Durr Road is closed at Umptanum Road and Umptanum-Wenas Road is local traffic only.
About 300 firefighters battled the blaze Tuesday afternoon, with the help of dozers and multiple aircraft, according to officials.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized the use of federal funds Tuesday to reimburse state and local agencies for firefighting costs in the Evans Canyon Fire, after determining that, “the fire threatened to cause such destruction as would constitute a major disaster,” according to a FEMA news release.
According to the release, two homes have been damaged in the fire and hundreds more in the area may need to evacuate.
In addition to reimbursing firefighting costs, FEMA is providing $629,681 to Washington state to be used to mitigate future fire hazards.
Firefighting resources are constrained, with nine uncontrolled and three controlled fires in Washington state as of Tuesday evening, the FEMA release said.
In response to the Evans Canyon Fire and other wildfires burning through the state, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads the state’s wildfire fighting force, issued a statement asking the public for their help in preventing wildfires.
“We are heading into another dry, windy spell,” Franz said in a news release. “Right now, there is a critical need for all of us to take precautions in order to protect our firefighters and communities.”
Such precautions include abiding by burn and campfire bans, paying attention while doing yard work to ensure equipment doesn’t create sparks and making sure chains aren’t dragging on boat or camper trailers.
“It only takes one spark in these conditions to cause a devastating wildfire, putting our landscapes, communities, and firefighters at risk,” Franz said in the release.
As of about 6 p.m. Tuesday, the air quality in the Yakima area was unhealthy, meaning that everyone may experience some adverse health effects from smoke in the air and anyone sensitive to particles in the air may experience more serious effects.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Evans Canyon Fire in Yakima County threatening over 100 structures
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