White Pass closed through weekend; Cold Creek Fire just 5% contained

US 12 remains closed in both directions, WSDOT says
Cold Creek Fire White Pass
Courtesy: Michael Emrick via InciWeb

Both directions of US 12 over White Pass will be closed through Monday morning, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced Friday afternoon.

The pass was closed Tuesday, September 14, because of a wildfire discovered the night before near White Pass Summit, approximately 30 miles west of Yakima.

The fire is being called the Cold Creek Fire. The US Forest Service reported Friday the fire has burned 400 acres on both sides of the highway and was 5% contained.

Here are the US 12 closure points:
  • Eastbound: Three miles east of summit at milepost 154 near Falls Overlook by Dog Lake
  • Westbound: Eight miles east of summit near milepost 159 at Upper Tieton Road

“The opening time is unknown and road will remain closed over the weekend with an update provided Monday afternoon,” according to a Friday update on WSDOT’s Travel Alert page. Local and recreational traffic is being allowed on both sides of the pass, which connects Yakima County with Lewis County.

In addition to firefighters working on the highway, boulders and debris have been falling onto the roadway. Fire agencies have had to park engines and trucks in the eastbound lanes, away from the side close to the mountain.

Emergency officials are asking people to stay out of the area west of Clear Lake. Level 2 “Be Set” Evacuation Notices are in effect in areas around Clear Lake and Rimrock Lake, according to Yakima Valley Emergency Management. No structures are threatened.

One concern is that potential wind gusts up to 20 mph will stress containment lines. Firefighters hope to keep the fire from growing toward the Rimrock area.

The Southeast Washington Incident Management Team is fighting the fire on the Naches Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.