500+ residents attend Taylor bridge town hall meetings

500+ residents attend Taylor bridge town hall meetings
CLE ELUM and ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- Residents lined up Wednesday evening, just hoping for any more news on the fire that has literally changed their lives.

"It used to be right in the valley could see it from my house but I can’t now just basically trying to get some more information on it," said Conner Thompson, a resident of Ellensburg.

"We are hoping to find out what their plan is and what they are going to be doing in the future," said Elk Heights resident Pat Jarnagin.

Officials say the fire started around 1 PM Monday on the construction site along the Taylor Road bridge in Cle Elum. The first responders to the fire were Fire District 7, 1, and DNR, the majority of who are unpaid volunteer firemen. Two hours later, fire officials held an emergency meeting and declared a state of emergency in order to get additional resources to the site. The incident commander says they are working to protect and monitor homes in the inner perimeter of the fire to prevent more from burning. But he says it's hard to decide which homes are safest to save.

"Do we save structures? Do we lose firefighters? The decision is pretty simple," said Incident Commander Rex Reed.

So far there has been only one reported injury-a firefighter who has received medical attention for minor facial burns. A total of 900 boots are on the ground, and they are starting to have better luck fighting the flames.

Although a mandatory evacuation was order for residents of Lauderdale. Fire crews have gained some ground along HWY 10, and the fire near the Elk Heights irrigation canal has been stabilized.

"We’re going to pick up the pieces and we're going to get this contained for you. We’re going to try to minimize the impact and were going to help you clean up the mess," said Reed

The fire is expected to be contained within the next 5-7 days. But officials say to anticipate smoke even after that. Crews say the fire is still at 22, 656 acres and at least 70 homes have burned. That's in addition to the 210 outbuildings that were also destroyed. Officials are encouraging homeowners who suffered a loss to submit information to the Kittitas County Sherriff’s Office.