Dozens of homes ordered evacuated as wildfires surge

Dozens of homes ordered evacuated as wildfires surge

WENATCHEE, Wash. -- Fire officials say a central Washington wildfire has now burned 104 square miles of grass, sagebrush and timber in Kittitas and Chelan counties.

The Colockum Tarps Fire has burned to the north end of the Wild Horse Wind Farm, about 17 miles east of Ellensburg overlooking the Columbia River. The blaze originated south of Wenatchee.

The fire danger is expected to remain high in Eastern Washington through Thursday amid the threat of erratic winds and lightning strikes from thunderstorms.

The Kittitas County Sheriff's Office ordered residents of about 75 scattered homes and cabins to evacuate Wednesday.

Level 3 evacuations are in place for the area north of the Christensen Rd. and Parke Creek Rd. intersection and northwest to the intersection of Cooke Canyon Rd. and Gage Rd.

Anyone needing shelter can go to the sheriff's office located at 307 West Umptanum Road.

The Red Cross has opened an emergency shelter at the Mercer Creek church at 1407 North B Street in Ellensburg. Officials said they don't need any donations at this time.

An animal shelter is set up at the Kittitas Valley Event Center for anyone who needs to evacuate their animals. Check-in is at the Wester Town Ticket Center located at Alder Street and 8th Avenue.

About 400 firefighters were working to control the fire, which was 8 percent contained, fire officials said.

Near Goldendale, firefighters gained ground on a fire that had closed U.S. Highway 97 for days.

The Mile Marker 28 Fire was 60 percent contained. The Washington Department of Transportation reopened the highway Wednesday, with pilot cars leading vehicles through the fire area. Delays of up to one hour were expected.

Fire crews built a fire line around the fire that burned about 35 square miles near Satus Pass, about 15 miles northeast of Goldendale, fire spokesman Dam Omdal said.

More than 1,300 firefighters were on the line mopping up hot spots and strengthening fire lines.

KIMA reporter Matt Finn and The Associated Press contributed to this report