Saddle Mountain Fire grows to nearly 6,000 acres in Grant County

Saddle Mountain Fire
PC: Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team

GRANT COUNTY, Wash. – Hundreds of firefighters have been up all night working to contain the Saddle Mountain Fire, which as of Tuesday morning has grown to an estimated 5,760 acres according to Public Information Officer and firefighter Ben Shearer. The fire is currently 10% contained.

There’s currently no evacuations in place, no structures have been damaged and their are no road closures in place. The fire started Monday afternoon off State Route 24 just east of Mattawa. Hanford Fire is among some of the agencies from all over the state working to control the fire.

Shearer tells KAPP-KVEW that around 200 firefighters who are assigned to the Saddle Mountain Fire aren’t just up against the high winds – they’re also trying to be socially distant with each other. Each firefighter is wearing a mask and at their command post at Wahluke High School, their teams are spread out all over campus to avoid contact with each other.

They are also working on culturally sensitive land with Native American artifacts. Firefighters are being very careful, as there is also protected wildlife and plant species in the area of the wildfire as well.

Here is a full press relase from the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team:

Incident Update 7/7/20 0500 update.

Incident Summary: The SaddleMtnFire2020 started at approximately 12:30 PM, on July 6, 2020. Located in Grant County on the western end of Saddle Mountain and grew quickly. Located on U.S.Fish & Wildlife protected land, additional partners from the area were called in. Grant County Fire District 8 and 5, as well as crews from the Bureau of Land Management and Hanford Fire Department quickly responded to help. Air resources were requested and at one point there were 4 aircraft in the air as well as an 8-person team of Jumpers. The jumpers were brought in to get quickly to the top of the ridge so that command would have more information on the whole fire. However, with afternoon winds blowing in, the crews were having a hard time keeping the fire contained within a perimeter. Additional resources were called in from across the state. When fires become large enough and have enough complexity, fire service also brings in an Incident Management Team to help support the large number of crews that are one scene or on their way. Team 2 from the SE Washington All-Hazard Interagency Type 3 team was requested. Team 2 took control of the fire at 0000 on July 7.

Overnight: As mobilization crews arrived on scene they were briefed and sent to the line to tie in with the exhausted crews that had been working this fire all afternoon. As soon as was possible the crews from the local districts will be sent home to get some sleep. Some of the local crews will be on hand today to assist the fresh crews, while others will be left available to handle other emergency calls in their districts. Firefighting continued all night, to keep the fire with-in the defined perimeter.

Concerns: A weather storm blew in overnight, keeping the crews hopping as the fire tried to break through a few containment lines.

Wildlife: Saddle Mountain is home to a big variety of wildlife. The Washington Ground Squirrel is one of the protected species here. Crews will work with a wildlife biologist to try to limit the effects of the fire and the extinguishment efforts. There are also a variety of grasses and shrubs that are found here, and crews will use different tactics in some places to work at preserving the native plants.

Today: The main effort will be to hold the lines in place, and work at getting the hot spots knocked down. Looking forward, the goal, will be to gain more containment each day. Crews will be sent home as their work is done. There will be crews working on the west slope area of Saddle Mountain, near the ORV park. We are asking the public to please stay clear of the fire area.

For continued information go to the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team (@sewaimt) on Facebook or SE_WA_IMT on twitter.