Table Mountain Fire forces Liberty evacuation

Table Mountain Fire forces Liberty evacuation
Fire burning in timber near the Old Blewett Pass. Photo courtesy: WIIMT1

INCIDENT MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE -- The Table Mountain fire has prompted the Kittitas County Sheriff to designate as level-3 evacuation areas the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest east of State Highway 97, the Naneum State Forest and the town of Liberty.

Residents of Liberty were evacuated Saturday afternoon and urged to check in with Red Cross officials at Centennial Center, 719 E. Third, in Cle Elum. Red Cross staff will provide information about emergency shelter for evacuees as well as for livestock and pets.

Horses may be boarded at the Washington State Horse Park, located just east of the Cascade Range off Interstate 90 in Cle Elum.

The evacuations follow a declaration of emergency by the Kittitas County Commission Saturday morning. The Washington State Patrol has approved a mobilization act which will allow the release of additional fire apparatus and personnel and law enforcement personnel in the affected area.

Undersheriff Clay Myers said residents have been cooperating with evacuation efforts and that deputies appreciated the support in the midst of a situation that can appear particularly threatening at night.

"We've seen an uptick in emergency calls at night when fire is visible for miles and flames can appear too close for comfort," said Myers, adding that the department's top priority is the health and safety of people. "We are keeping a close, minute-to-minute watch on the fire, and if it threatens to come near homes and property, we'll let people know right away."

The expansion of the fire has forced the closure of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest east of State Highway 97. The area extends from Blewett Pass, south along Highway 97 to the vicinity of the Liberty Cafe, along the northern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District on the county line, down the eastern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District, and along the southern edge of the Cle Elum Ranger District. The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has closed the Naneum State Forest to protect the safety of the public and firefighters, although the area is not directly threatened now.

US Forest Service or DNR roads closed due to fire, include Reecer Creek Road at Snowpark, Wilson Creek Road at the end of the county road, Coleman Canyon Road, Schnebly Canyon Road, and Cook Canyon Road.

Early Saturday morning fires in the Table Mountain area merged and now are estimated to be more than 2500 acres. This fire is being managed as part of the Yakima Complex. By Sunday, Sept. 16 nearly 1200 firefighters are working on the fires in Yakima and Kittitas Counties. Firefighters are battling more than 100 fires in Kittitas and Yakima Counties, which were sparked by lightening last week.

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INCIDENT MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE -- The expansion and merger of multiple wildfires in the Swauk Creek / Table Mountain area have prompted the Kittitas County Sheriff to direct level-1, 2 and 3 evacuations of area residents.  Evacuees are asked to check in with emergency officials at the Upper County Senior Center, 719 E. Third, in Cle Elum.  The evacuation notices follow a declaration of emergency by the Kittitas County Commission this morning.
 
A level 1 evacuation advises residents fire is in the area and they should prepare to leave; level 2 advises residents to be ready to leave within 30 minutes should the situation change; level 3 advises residents of imminent danger and  the need to leave immediately.

Following are areas affected by the evacuation order:

Level 3: Williams Creek, Harkness, Pine Gulch, Liberty Mountain Association, Cougar Gulch, and Boulder Creek

Level 2: Liberty, Upper Green Canyon, the top of the Naneum drainage, Wilson Creek, and the Sun East housing development at the top of Robbins Road.

Level 1: SR 97 to the Liberty Cafe and the northern foothills of lower Kittitas County
Red Cross representatives will be available at the Senior Center in Cle Elum to identify the needs of evacuees and their livestock or pets. The Washington State Patrol has approved a mobilization act which will allow the release of additional fire engines and law enforcement personnel in the affected area.

The expansion of the fire has forced the closure of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest east of State Highway 97 (extending from Blewett Pass, south along Highway 97 to the vicinity of Liberty Café), along the northern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District on the county line, extending down the eastern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District, and along the southern edge of the Cle Elum Ranger District.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has closed the entire Naneum State Forest. There is no immediate threat; however, the closure is being implemented for public and fire fighter safety. DNR personnel will be in the area issuing notifications. The public will be updated as these closures expand or decrease.

The wildfires are burning in the Liberty and Table Mountain areas; the fires have grown together and are now estimated to be more than 2500 acres.  This fire is being managed as part of the Yakima Complex.  Over 800 firefighters are working on the fires in Yakima and Kittitas Counties, with more resources expected to arrive today.

For more information please see www.inciweb.org/incident/3256.  Residents affected by the fire please contact the Emergency Operations Center at 509-933-8305. For fire information please contact the Yakima Complex Information Office at 509-925-1193.