Three NKF&R firefighters sent to major fire in Kittitas County

This photo is from a short video made by a North Kitsap Fire & Rescue firefighter when the crew arrived on the fire line in Cle Elum, Monday.  - North Kitsap Fire & Rescue
This photo is from a short video made by a North Kitsap Fire & Rescue firefighter when the crew arrived on the fire line in Cle Elum, Monday.
— image credit: North Kitsap Fire & Rescue

Cle Elum — Three North Kitsap Fire & Rescue firefighters are in Kittatas County helping to fight the Taylor Bridge Fire, NKF&R Chief Dan Smith said, which had grown to 22,600 acres Thursday morning. Nearly 900 firefighters have the fire 25 percent contained.

Local firefighters Alex Hickey, Dean Schuster and Jasper Stenstrom took a brush engine to the fire as part of three regional strike teams, consisting of firefighters and equipment from King, Kitsap, Mason and Pierce counties. Smith, the regional strike team coordinator, said each strike team consists of five wildland engines, a water tender and a strike team leader.

The strike teams consists of firefighters from Eastside Fire & Rescue, Woodinville Fire & Rescue, Duval Fire (King County Fire District 45),

King County Fire District 20, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Enumclaw (King County Fire District 28), Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One,

Riverside Fire & Rescue, Key Peninsula Fire Department, Pierce County Fire District 13, East Pierce Fire & Rescue,

Central Mason Fire & Rescue, Mason County Fire Districts 2, 4, 12, 16, and Bainbridge Island Fire Department.

Smith sent a total of 39 personnel for the effort.

It’s the first time this year that firefighters from North Kitsap have assisted elsewhere under the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan. The Taylor Bridge Fire is located six miles east of Cle Elum on State Route 10, milepost 90 in Kittitas County. Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste authorized the mobilization of state firefighting resources at 3:30 p.m., Aug. 13, at the request of Kittitas County Fire District 7.

According to Batiste’s office, the fire started on Aug. 13 at approximately 1:19 p.m. and is burning in sage and timber. The cause of the fire is unknown. As of 9 p.m. Aug. 13, mobilization specialists from the state Fire Protection Bureau had ordered eight strike teams of wildland engines to supplement resources already fighting the fire.

The fire grew from 800 acres and 100 threatened homes at 9 p.m. Aug. 13 to 20,000 acres and 60 structures lost 12 hours later, Smith said. He said lightning that is expected later this week raises the possibility of more wildfires.

“Right now, there is the possibility of seven to 14 large fires that could happen from this lightning Friday and Saturday,” Smith said. “Fire resources in the state are preparing for that as well.

Under the State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan, the Fire Protection Bureau coordinates the initial dispatch and continued administrative oversight of resources and personnel for the duration of a major fire. The Mobilization Plan is implemented to provide a process to quickly notify, assemble and deploy fire service personnel, equipment and other resources from around the state when fires, disasters or other events exceed the capacity of local jurisdictions.

Information about the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan is available online.

Meanwhile, Poulsbo Fire Lt. Eddie Wright has assisted as an independent contractor at fires in Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho, Poulsbo Fire spokeswoman Jody Matson said.

FEMA authorizes funds to help fight Taylor Bridge Fire

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Taylor Bridge Fire.

FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Sharon Loper approved the state's request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant on Aug 14 at 1 a.m. At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 500 homes east of the community of Cle Elum, population 2,745. The fire was also threatening major power transmission lines and a wind turbine power generating facility in the area. Approximately 200 people have evacuated the area, and three shelters are open.

The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of Washington eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. These grants provide reimbursement for firefighting and life-saving efforts. They do not provide assistance to individuals, homeowners or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.

Fire Management Assistance Grants are provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. Eligible items can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplies.

Gov. Gregoire issues statement on the Taylor Bridge Fire

Gov. Chris Gregoire issued the following statement on the Taylor Bridge Fire, Tuesday:

“All Washingtonians stand with those who have lost their homes and property in the Taylor Bridge Fire. The destruction overnight is a stark reminder of how quickly and unexpectedly wildfire can move. The Department of Natural Resources and other agencies have engaged quickly and are working in tough conditions to evacuate families and make containment a top priority. We are closely monitoring the fire and are in frequent contact with the Department of Natural Resources on any additional assistance they may need. I have directed the Washington State Patrol and the Emergency Management Department to continue to make this a priority. Additionally, the Department of Corrections has more than 140 inmates on the fire line.

“With hot and dry conditions across the state, and temperatures expected to remain high, I ask all Washingtonians to obey burn bans and be mindful of safety precautions. I thank the firefighters for their hard work and the community of Cle Elum for stepping up to help neighbors in need.”


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