Red Flag Warning as wildfire near Cle Elum burns through 18,000+ acres
CLE ELUM, Wash. - The Jolly Mountain fire has grown and is burning out of control, fire authorities say.
The U.S. National Weather Service Sunday issued a Red Flag Warning in response to the now more than 18,000-acre blaze.
The warning means there is a strong possibility that the fire could explode and spread rapidly. The fire is still zero percent contained, officials say.
Firefighters have been battling the blaze for about three weeks. Crews say they are working around the clock and that the fire is tough to access and burning out of control.
The flames have already forced at least 1,000 people to evacuate under under level 3, the most urgent level.
Laura Osiadacz, a Roslyn resident, spent hours Sunday packing up her families’ belongings and preparing to leave her home. The community of Roslyn is on standby, and Osiadacz, the Kittitas County Commissioner, wants to make sure her community and her family stay safe.
“I want to make sure they’re all in the right places in case we do get to that point in time where we do need to evacuate,” Osiadacz said. “It’s not something we’ve ever experienced before.”
Fire authorities say Sunday’s Red Flag warning take the fire to a whole new level.
“It means critical fire conditions for fire growth and spread,” John Pendergrasy, an incident meteorologist, said. “The fire growth could really be magnified because of the dry conditions as well as the unstable conditions on the ground.”
The Jolly Mountain Fire started August 11. So far, crews have been able to protect all the homes in the area. No structures have been destroyed.
Conditions in the area are extremely smoky and expected to stay that way for a while. At least 600 personnel are currently responding to the fire, officials tell KOMO News.
Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed a state of emergency Saturday evening across all Washington state due to growing wildfire concern.
An at least 17,400-acre wildfire is also burning near Mount Rainier. There is concern that the Norse Peak Fire could threaten the Crystal Mountain Ski area. Officials says it could be early October before the fire is fully contained.
A third blaze, the Uno Peak Fire, has forced the closure of the South Navarre Campground and nearby trails in Lake Chelan. The fire has burned through at least 400 acres since it started Thursday.