Taylor Bridge Wildfire Burns 27,000 Acres, Still Growing
UPDATE: Wednesday, August 15, 2012.
“Smoke from Siberian wildfires continue to create hazy skies over western Washington…,” was the laconic caption from the National Weather Service’s Seattle bureau yesterday, accompanying a MODIS satellite photo. But on the eastern side of the Cascades, a local wildfire had started sometime after 1 p.m., later traced to construction crews working on Taylor Bridge. By 5:45 p.m., it had burned an estimated 2,800 acres, by 10 p.m., more than 10,000, by midnight, 16,000 acres, encompassing 26 square miles.
Fueled by high winds, it would burn through 27,000 acres by 5:20 a.m. Tuesday morning, stretching from Cle Elum toward Ellensburg. Kittitas County Emergency Response says more than 60 structures have burned, but no injuries have yet been reported. “450 people were evacuated overnight,” reports the Seattle Times; their photographer Bettina Hansen has been chronicling the scene on Twitter.
Photographer Steve Bisig has posted a number of pictures from the fire last night, and Ellensburg’s Daily Record has an extensive slideshow. More real-time information is available by following the #taylorbridgefire hashtag on Twitter.
Washington’s department of transportation says US 97 is closed from SR 10 to SR 970; anyone trying to get to Wenatchee is advised to use SR 970 rather than US 97. Today’s forecast is for temperatures in the upper 80s to 90 degrees, with continued gusting winds. The fire was estimated to be traveling at 25 mph Tuesday morning, heading southeast of its origin, and uncontained.
CNN reports that, as of Tuesday, 62 wildfires are burning throughout the western U.S. You can see the smoke from quite a few in this satellite photo from August 13.