9/1/2014

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Fire near Goldendale burns 32 square miles

Fire near Goldendale burns 32 square miles
KLICKITAT COUNTY, Wash. -- Firefighters said they made good progress on containing a wildfire northeast of Goldendale, Wash. that has now grown to nearly 32 square miles.

The Mile Marker 28 Fire is now 25 percent contained, according to Randy Shepard with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Cooler weather has allowed firefighters to get more of a handle on the fire, but even then, it's still doubled in size since Saturday night.

The Satus Pass Fire near Goldendale has reached 20,000 acres burning grasslands, timber and everything in sight.

The wildfire is threatening 69 homes and 75 other structures. The Klickitat County sheriff's office issued evacuation notices for the homes last week. None of the homes has been been damaged.

Around 1,200 firefighters are working on the fire with more expected to arrive on Monday, Shepard said. They’re expecting cooler temperatures and light winds Monday.

“We made good progress yesterday. We’ve got a good line along the west and south flanks of the fire. The north side is looking good too,” Shepard said. “We are hoping to a get a line around the east flank in the next day or two.”

Helicopters should be able to fight the fire more efficiently starting Monday. Shepard says they will receive a portable retardant mixing plant. That means helicopters won’t have to fly back and forth from Moses Lake to reload.

“The bottom line is that we’re hoping to make good progress again today. How secure the lines around the fire are will dictate the percentage of containment. Because of the difficult terrain, we don’t want to declare the containment too soon.”

More than 150 community members attended a meeting Sunday night in Bickelton where fire officials gave them an update on their progress.

The Washington State Department of Transportation on Sunday said the fire will keep Highway 97 closed between Toppenish and Goldendale for the next several days. The stretch of highway has been closed since Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Red Cross Shelter is currently helping families displaced from the fire.

KIMA reporter Ada Chong contributed to this report
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