UPDATE: Bateman Island may remain closed all summer due to fire

UPDATE: Bateman Island may remain closed all summer due to fire

The City of Richland has closed access to Bateman Island after it burned more than 70 acres since Sunday evening.

The fire broke out around 6 p.m. and continued through the night. As of Monday afternoon, it is mostly contained and under control, according to a news release.

Crews from four agencies were on hand Sunday night through Monday morning to fight the blaze: Richland, Kennewick and Benton County Fire Districts 1 and 2.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Although fire officials suspect human error, they say the official cause may be impossible to determine. Once ignited, firefighters say it spread quickly through dry, heavy underbrush. No injuries have been reported.

The public are instructed to avoid the Bateman Island area indefinitely as the native low lying vegetation and undergrowth is expected to continue to smolder for up to several weeks. There is also extensive damage to burned out trees which pose a risk of collapsing and causing injury. The closure may last throughout the summer, according to a news release.

“We understand Bateman Island is a popular destination and valuable resource for our citizens,” said Richland Fire & Emergency Services Chief Tom Huntington. “However, at this time the safety of our community is our utmost priority. This closure is in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers.”

The property is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and is managed/leased by the City of Richland.