The Satus Pass fire has destroyed more than 4,000 acres as hundreds of firefighters try to stop a blaze described as “extreme.”
The fire started on the Yakama Nation reservation in Washington, burning through trees in lower elevations while it sparked grass and shrubs in higher elevations. On Friday the fire spread quickly, affecting roads and growing at an unpredictable pace due to the rugged terrain.
“In the areas where the fire is burning the winds are very erratic because of the topography,” said Mark Grassel, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.
Weather was a particular factor in the Satus Pass fire, with winds between 15 and 20 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles per hour.
By Friday there were more than 700 firefighters working on the blaze, building fire lines using bulldozers and hand tools. Officials have evacuated homes on the south end of the Satus Pass fire, where it threatened 30 homes and a commercial structure.
Officials said the fire poses a danger as it approaches homes.
“We’ve got the issues with houses and propane tanks and power lines, and all those risks that you wouldn’t have if you were just fighting a wildland fire,” said Dan Johnson of the Department of Natural Resources.
One couple forced out by the Satus Pass fire, David and Suzanne Sparks, said they are waiting to see if they will have a home to return to.
“Yeah this is home sweet home away from home, if we got a home left,” David Sparks said from a shelter.
“Kind of in a state of shock, we’ve never done it before, I don’t really even know what I put in my car, clothes and pills I think,” Suzanne Sparks added.
Fire officials are still trying to determine the cause of the Satus Pass fire.