Vantage Highway Fire is 100% contained, finalized at 30,659 acres

FINAL UPDATE: The Vantage Highway & Cow Canyon wildfires are almost completely contained

UPDATE at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 8: Although the Vantage Highway Fire grew more than 4,000 acres through the weekend, the blaze is now 75% contained with resources now being redirected to other wildfires in the Kittitas County region.

According to the latest update from Northwest Incident Management Team 12, crews patrolled the perimeter and searched for heat sources to prevent the fire from picking back up. Information was gathered from the field to gain a more accurate read on the wildfire as crews begin to consider the necessary steps to take after the blaze reaches total containment.

They also confirmed that the total size of the fire is now estimated at 30,635 acres.

Vantage Highway is fully reopened to the public, but the Quilomene and Whiskey Dick wildlife areas remain closed due to persisting fire danger. In total 117 resources have been assigned to the Vantage Highway Fire—though many of them are moving on to combat the Cow Canyon Fire nearby.

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UPDATE at 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 5: Emergency management crews are once again listing the estimated size of the Vantage Highway Fire at 26,500 acres. However, they are reporting further containment. The fire is now 35% contained and no more structures have been lost.

The SE-WA IMT says cooler weather has assisted fire crews in decreasing fire behavior. Crews spent Thursday building control lines to improve the western side of the fire. They also completed the northern containment line and turned west and south to connect the upper portion of the fire to the west flank.

Command of the containment effort was shifted to Northwest Incident Team 12 at 6:00 a.m. on Aug. 5. One of their main goals is to prevent flames from spreading to a windmill farm located west of the fire.

Helicopters and DNR aircraft are splitting their time between the Vantage Highway Fire and Cow Canyon Fire burning near Wenas—approx. 12 miles southwest of Ellensburg. They hope to increase containment before higher temperatures and winds impact the trajectory of the fire.

READ: Lind Fire is contained, evacuations lifted following loss of more than a dozen structures

UPDATE at 10:00 a.m. on Aug. 4: An observational flight over the Vantage Highway Fire has provided a more accurate map of the external borders of the fire. According to SE-WA IMT, the burned land is approximately 17,000 acres, which is significantly less than the fire perimeter of 26,500 acres.

Through treacherous conditions and high heat, fire crews worked through the night to make sure the Vantage Highway Fire wouldn’t grow past its perimeter or skip the Columbia River toward Grant County. A northern border was solidified with the hope of keeping the flames from passing Box Cayon.

However, firefighting aircraft assigned to this fire were redirected to other wildfires across the region in Kittitas County and Spokane County. The hope is that cooler and more humid conditions will slow the advancement of the Vantage Highway Fire and give crews a chance to increase containment.

With that in mind, there is a chance that Vantage Highway reopens on Thursday afternoon. Emergency leadership will assess the conditions of the roadway and fire at 3:00 p.m. PSt to make a decision on how to proceed.

UPDATE at 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 3: Firefighters have now contained a quarter of the Vantage Highway Fire, but the blaze grew to 26,500 acres of natural land in Kittitas County.

Map of Vantage Highway Fire published by SE-WA IMT at 5:25 p.m. on Aug. 3

A new map of the wildfire was shared by SE-WA IMT, showing that the peak of the fire’s perimeter extended past Jacknife Ridge Rd to the area of Box Canyon Rd.

Though it may appear like this entire stretch is burning based on the map, that is not the case. This reflects the perimeter of fire activity, but there are stretches of land which have not been impacted within the area.

Crews will remain on the scene through the night to secure containment lines.

UPDATE at 9:oo a.m. on Aug. 3: The Vantage Highway Fire remains at 10,500 acres with 18 percent containment. It has destroyed one cabin and three outbuildings. The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office has lifted the Level 2 Evacuation Notice for Vantage. There are no remaining evacuation notices for this fire.

One structure and three outbuildings have burned, according to SE-WA IMT. The following resources have been deployed to combat the blaze: 26 engines, six water tenders, three fire bosses, two hand crews, two dozers, two scoopers and two LATS.

UPDATE at 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 2: Emergency management crews saw the Vantage Highway Fire extend to an estimated 10,500 acres through Tuesday afternoon.

Vantage Highway Fire

Map of Vantage Highway Fire published by SE-WA IMT at 5:49 p.m. on Aug. 2

While this map displays the range of the fire, it does not represent a single mass of fire. Swathes of unburned natural fuel including grass fields remain safe as the flames spread in an unpredictable nature across the region.

The Vantage Highway Fire has largely grown northeast with the current peak of the blaze’s perimeter mapped at Scammon Landing.

Escalated fire danger associated with the ongoing Red Flag Warning is contributing heavily to the spread of this fire activity, according to the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team (SE-WA IMT).

UPDATE at 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 2: The Vantage Highway Fire remains active, but conditions are currently improving for community members and first responders as traffic remains relatively unaffected on I-90. Thanks to ongoing endeavors, the fire has not jumped the Columbia River, Kittitas County authorities say.

Power has been fully restored to customers in the Vantage area, where a widescale wildfire and response impacted electricity for local customers. Fire crews and power companies will be working to repair and replace power poles over the next several days, responding agencies say.

Although the highway itself remains closed at Parke Creek Rd and Recreation Dr, local traffic will be allowed to pass through if required. Authorities in control of this fire response project ask that community members steer clear of the area for the safety of themselves and the people working on fire suppression efforts.

“If you are in the Vantage area, please stay alert to changing conditions and be ready to leave as necessary. Your safety and the safety of your family should be your first priority,” the Kittitas County Sheriff stated online. “Be proactive; evacuate if you feel it is necessary – don’t wait for law enforcement to knock.”

READ: A Guide to Evacuation Levels and Important Terminology for Wildfire Season

UPDATE at 9:00 a.m. on Aug. 2: Despite overnight firefighting efforts, the Vantage Highway Fire is only 10% contained and has grown to 8,000 acres. Now, state aerial resources have been deployed to aid fire suppression and survey the region.

According to Grace DeBusschere of the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team, fire activity is spreading north toward the Whiskey Dick Creek Drainage as of Tuesday morning. Her team expects fire activity to increase by the middle of the day, so people in Kittitas County may see a column of smoke forming when wind speeds rise.

Around 2:30 a.m. on Monday night, cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels settled fire activity. Crews secured the perimeter of the fire closest to Vantage Highway. officials say.

EVACUATIONS: The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office has lifted the Level 2 Evacuation Notice for Vantage.

Vantage Highway remains closed from Park Creek Road to Recreation Drive except for local traffic. Ginko State Park is closed for public safety. Following brief Level 3 (GO NOW!) orders on Monday night, evacuation notices for Brown St, Columbia Ave, and Lakeview Ave were reduced within an hour. There are no remaining evacuation notices for this fire.

A command post for the managing agency has been established at the Kittitas Secondary School at 7571 Kittitas Hwy.

READ: Here’s what you should keep in your emergency “Go Bag” for wildfires

UPDATE at 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 1: Roughly 40 structures including homes and windmill towers are being threatened by the Vantage Highway Fire that state fire officials estimate to span more than 5,000 acres of Kittitas County.

According to the Washington State Fire Marshal’s office, assistance from the state has been mobilized as part of the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan. The backup was requested by Fire Chief William Rose of KCFD No. 4.

The cause of this fire remains under investigation as crews from across the county and now state work to limit the spread of flames across natural land and vast vegetation. Evacuation notices remain at Level 2, meaning people in the area must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

UPDATE at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 1: The Vantage Highway Fire will keep firefighters and law enforcement at the scene overnight as they work to prevent the spread of flames across natural land in Kittitas County.

According to an update from the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, the town of Vantage remains at a Level 2 evacuation notice for the foreseeable future. Road closures remain in effect from No. 81 Road to Recreation Drive near Vantage Highway in order to prioritize public safety and keep the roads clear for emergency responders.


Vantage Highway Fire draws firefighters from across Kittitas County (Image via Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, Facebook)

KCSO officials do not have an estimate of the acreage impacted. A Type 3 Incident Management Team has been assigned by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to oversee firefighting endeavors.

Vantage Highway closed, Level 2 evacuations issued for wildfire

Firefighters respond to wildfire near Vantage Highway in Kittitas County (Image credit: Kittitas County Fire & Rescue Volunteer Association – KCFD7, Facebook)

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — The Red Flag Warning issued for the Kittitas Valley came to fruition on Aug. 1 as a wildfire ignited near Vantage Highway, drawing firefighters from across the county to combat heavy smoke and flames.

The first evacuation notice was issued by the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office at 12:50 p.m. on Monday afternoon, announcing the roadway would be closed from No. 81 Road to Recreation Drive. The fire was initially reported between mileposts 18 and 19.

Moments later, a Level 2 evacuation notice was issued for the Vantage area of Kittitas County. Under a Level 2 evacuation notice, residents are expected to get set to leave their residence at a moment’s notice in case fire danger threatens their home.

Kittitas County Fire District No. 1 took to social media, notifying the community that an initial attack is in progress. They sent Support 111, Brush 112 and Tender 121 to the scene.  The other responding agencies include Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue, Kittitas County Fire District No. 4, fire crews from the Washington Department of Natural Resources and more.

The following details were published by KAPP-KVEW’s sister station, KXLY:

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for most of eastern Washington through Tuesday. This means there are dry fuels, gusty winds and low humidity. Strong winds have been reported near the wildfire.

Further details are limited, but crews at the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office expect to have another update soon.

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Real-Time map shows stop-and-go traffic reported on the eastbound lane of I-90 toward Ellensburg near Cle Elum.


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