Taylor Bridge Fire containment at 25% as 900 fire fighters continue to fight fire

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August 16, 2012

(Cle Elum, WA) The Taylor Bridge Fire started on Monday, August 13, at approximately 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon. The fire continues to burn in grassland, sage brush, and timber. The incident is under unified command with agencies from: WA DNR, Kittitas County Fire Districts 1 and 7, Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue, and the WA Incident Management Team 2.

Yesterday, fire activity was erratic and mainly wind driven from the northwest. The fire made an advance north of the windfarm and east of SR97 where firefighters were able to stop the fire spread.  Crews were able to make good progress near the Sun Light Waters community using aircraft to suppress the fire.  A DC10 VLAT (very large air tanker) was one of the resources use.  Three retardant drops were made releasing 12,000 gallons of retardant per drop.   No additional structures have been lost in that area.   Overnight crews continued patrolling around structures and checking for hot spots.  

Today, firefighters will focus efforts along the Hidden Valley area to the Bettas Valley area. Fireline is within eyeshot of structures near Emerick Road, west of SR 97.  Crews continue to patrol around structures, checking for hotspots west of Reecer Creek Road and south of Lower Green Canyon.  Burn out operations will take place along SR10 between SR97 junction and Swauk Creek to help in reducing fuels that can potentially flare-up and burn.

Approximately 900 firefighters are now assigned to the Taylor Bridge Fire.  Air attack resources will continue work along the northern border of the fire perimeter where access by crews is difficult. 

Evacuation levels are as follows:

Beginning at noon today, some Level 3 evacuation areas have now been reduced to a Level 2.  Only areas south and east of the following roads are now accessible to local traffic and residents only.

Along the east portion of the fire: Cricklewood Lane (off of SR97), Ellensburg Ranches Road (off of SR97), Hayward Road (off of SR10 and Ellensburg Ranches Road). SR10 is accessible to residents from Hayward Road east to the SR97 junction.

In the Sunlight Waters area, Sunlight Drive and Clubhouse Drive are accessible to local residents only.

Level 2: At this point we request people consider leaving the area, or be ready to leave at a moment’s notice due to the high possibility of the fire reaching the area.  Access back into the area may be limited at this point.

The Level 3 Evacuation Order remains in place for the following areas: Lauderdale area at the SR970 and SR97 junction, Bettas Valley area, homes on the west side of SR97 between SR97 and Swauk, the Hidden Valley area, and Elk Springs Road.  The Sunlight Waters area remains at a Level 3 Evacuation Order except for Sunlight Drive and Clubhouse Drive.  

Road closures include: SR97 at Elk Springs Road to Lauderdale junction, and SR10 from Taylor Road to Hayward Road.  Road closures, evacuation areas and repopulation into the fire perimeter are being continuously evaluated. Utility crews are working in the eastern zone of the fire area on damaged power lines and other utilities.

Level 3:           The fire is in the area, people are to leave immediately.  Access to the area is restricted.

Two emergency shelters are set up at the following locations:  Cle Elum Centennial Senior Center, 719 E. Third Street in Cle Elum, (509) 674-7530, and Central Washington University – Munson Dorms, 400 E. University Way, (509) 963-1141, in Ellensburg, Washington. Livestock and small animals have also been evacuated to the Kittitas County Fairground in Ellensburg, Washington.

Public and firefighter safety is the top priority on the Taylor Bridge fire. The public is urged to stay clear from the road closure area and to minimize traffic on roads accessed by fire crews.  Fire danger remains high across Washington State.  Be sure to check with your fire agencies for local fire restrictions.

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