Jolly Mountain Fire: Residents of more than 150 homes told to evacuate

The so-called Jolly Mountain Wildfire is threatening more than 150 homes near Cle Elum. (Photo: KOMO News/Air 4)

CLE ELUM, Washington -- Kittitas County has escalated evacuations in the Middle Fork Teanaway near Cle Elum to a level 3 "Go Now" evacuation.

By Thursday morning, the fire had grown to 7,600 acres.

The Kittitas County Emergency Operations Center said the evacuations come as the Jolly Mountain Fire has moved southeast over Yellow Hill. There are 154 primary and secondary residences in the evacuation area.

The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office is notifying residences in the Middle Fork Teanaway and North Fork Teanaway of this advisory. This encompasses all of Middle Fork Teanaway Road, Middle Fork Lane, Teanaway Triangle Road, Logan Road, Boondoggle Road, Sandy Ridge Road, Wagon Wheel Road, Spoke Lane, Hub Lane, North Fork Teanaway Road, Upland Road, Larch Road and North Fork Ranch Road.

“You could see it coming down the hillside—white smoke—and that was the hill over from my place that’s what was really scary,” said evacuee Leonard Schwab. “Then you really start getting excited, you got to move stuff, you got to move fast.”

The Schwab family rushed from North Bend to their decade old dream cabin, as first responders quickly elevated evacuations to the highest level.

“I was at work and it was a level one this morning and when I got off work it was a level three so we rushed out here,” said Laura Schwab.

Families grabbed prized and sentimental possessions which they said can’t be replaced, but they won’t know what they will come back to.

“I totally understand now what people are going through when I watch the news,” Leonard Schwab said.

Officials said of the 154 homes evacuated, half were primary homes and the other half were cabins and vacation homes.

Firefighters said the fire grew 3,000 acres Wednesday, fueled by high winds, heat and plenty of dry fuel.

"It creates very dangerous conditions, very fast moving fire especially with any amount of wind behind it,” said Jolly Mountain Fire Public Information Officer.

The fire started August 11 after five lightning strikes and has burned about 8,000 acres total.

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