UPDATE: Vantage Highway Fire Now Over 10,000 Acres
Update 1:05 am 8/3
Conditions are improving somewhat with the Vantage Highway Fire in North Central Washington.
The fire still has a footprint of 10,500 acres, but containment has improved to 18 percent, up from 10 percent reported on Tuesday afternoon.
The Kittitas County Sheriff's Office has lifted all evacuation notices for the town of Vantage and power has been restored.
Vantage Highway will remain closed except for local traffic until further notice. Power crews are working to replace dozens of damaged power poles along the highway.
One Cabin and three outbuildings have now been lost after crews at the northeast corner of the fire had to retreat because of fire behavior.
The Vantage Highway Fire was first reported Monday afternoon at 1pm. The cause is still under investigation.
It's being handled by state and local personnel under an inter-agency Type 3 Response Team, and is being managed by the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team.
Airplanes and helicopters are being supplied by the state Department of Natural Resources.
According to the management team, the fire perimeter on a map appears to depict a solid, continuous burn. However, actually dispersed with large swathes of green, unburned areas.
The management team says as the head of the fire continues to push north, aerial resources are hitting those northernmost drainages with water drops and retardant. Hand crews were sent into the drainages to attack the fire's spread on the ground.
Update 5:05 pm 8/2
The Vantage Highway Fire is still estimated at only 10% containment but has grown to roughly 10,500 acres as of Tuesday afternoon.
The town of Vantage remains at a Level 2, or Get Ready, evacuation notice from the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office.
Public Information Officer for the Type 2 Southeast Washington Incident Management Team Grace DeBusschere said the focus has been containing the fire's northern spread.
"That's going to involve stationing a lot of hand crews and resources on basically each ridgeline that the fire is attempting to climb." DeBusschere said, "If that effort doesn't work, then we'll have to draw a bigger box around those ridges."
Eight aircraft are already in use against the fire with two more VLATs, or 'very large air tankers', on the way. There are just under 200 personnel on the fire and roughly 200 more are expected to arrive soon.
The fire is burning in dry grass and sage, with hot and windy conditions complicating firefighting efforts. There are reportedly several patches of unburned fuel still within the fire area.
The Vantage Highway is still closed. The town of Vantage had its power cut Monday but it was restored around 2:00pm Tuesday.
A cause hasn't been determined.
Update 12:05 pm 8/2
The Vantage Highway Fire burning about 10 miles west of Vantage is estimated to 8,000 acres with 10% containment.
The town of Vantage remains at a Level 2, or Get Ready, evacuation level after the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office briefly issued Level 3 orders last night.
Public Information Officer for the Type 2 Southeast Washington Incident Management Team Grace DeBusschere said about 200 personnel are on the fire.
"The fire is a state mobilization, which means that we have firefighters from all over the state who are driving this way to help out." DeBusschere said, "So that number will be growing in the coming days."
More information is expected soon, as a plane responsible for aerial reconnaissance of the fire just landed.
The fire is most active on its north side, where it is burning towards the Whiskey Creek drainage area. According to DeBusschere, the southern flank is holding well, while the wind is blowing the fire back into itself on the western side.
There are no known injuries or structures lost at this time.
Update 5:55 pm 8/1
The 5,000 acre wildfire is forcing the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office to maintain the Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation notices for the entire town of Vantage.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Spokesperson Ryan Rodruck said the wind-driven fire is threatening about 40 homes.
"The fire is burning in grass and sage." said Rodruck, "It is approximately 10 miles west of Vantage."
Fire crews and law enforcement will remain on scene overnight. No containment numbers have been released.
The fire is currently burning on both sides of Vantage Highway near I-90. Westbound I-90 was closed for a time due to the fire but has reportedly reopened.
Multiple fire agencies and DNR aircraft have responded and more resources are on the way after a statewide mobilization was authorized by the Washington State Patrol. A DNR Type-3 Incident Management Team has been assigned to the fire according to the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office.
A cause has not been identified.
Original post 1:48pm 8/1
Level 2 evacuation notices have been issued for the entire town of Vantage due to a wildfire.
The blaze is burning along the Vantage Highway near milepost 18 and is reportedly moving swiftly in high winds.
The Vantage Highway is closed from No. 81 Road near Ellensburg to Recreation Drive in Vantage.
Crews from several agencies are on scene and more are in route to fight the fire, which was first reported at 12:57 p.m. by the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office.
This is a developing situation. Return to this page and check the KPQ Facebook page for further updates.