OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released its investigation of the Taylor Bridge Fire, describing the origin and cause of the $11 million fire that destroyed 61 homes, hundreds of other structures, and blackened over 23,000 acres. The investigation found that the fire was human caused and was associated with the cutting and welding activity taking place on a bridge at the intersection of State Highway 10 and Taylor Road, southeast of Cle Elem.
In the report, the investigator states, “Based on the fire direction indicators, the information and evidence collected to date, I determine that the fire was human caused and was most likely caused by errant sparks and/or slag from the construction activity that was occurring on the bridge immediately prior to the fire’s start.”
The fire was reported to 911 at 1:19 pm on August 13. Employees of contractors and subcontractors for Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) were working on the bridge and attempted to extinguish the fire. The fire started from point of origin about 30 feet from where one worker was using a power saw to cut rebar on the bridge deck and second worker was welding under the bridge.
The report also states that “this bridge deck replacement activity is an industrial operation which may cause a fire to start on or adjacent to forestland. The construction activity was occurring in “shut down zone” 675 and the Industrial Fire Protection Level for the day was level 3 (IFPL3).”