243 Fire Grows to Over 18,000 Acres in Three Days
— Southeastern Grant County, WA
The 243 Fire burning near Beverly-Mattawa has burned over 18,000 acres as of Wednesday morning June 5th, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Grant County Fire officials have said that the fire is now 25 percent contained. Fire crews have managed to contain it primarily to the canyon. The fire was first reported by several drivers near the Wanapum Dam Monday night June 3rd. It is still unclear what sparked the fire and is still under investigation.
Close to 400 personnel from across the state of Washington, as well as two fire bosses, multiple helicopters, one air tanker and air attack are currently fighting the fire.
Strong winds caused the fire to rapidly expand overnight Monday, growing 3,500 acres in seven hours from 300 acres at 9:00 p.m. pst when the fire was first reported to 3,000 acres by 4:00 a.m. pst Tuesday-although those numbers will likely change as better mapping becomes available. Early Tuesday afternoon, GCSO (Grant County Sheriffs Office) stated that the fire had grown slightly larger, to 5,000 acres. On Wednesday, officials said the fire has reached 18,774 acres.
"Fires move very fast here and when the wind's pushing it, the heat from the flames will preheat the fuel ahead of it so by the time the flames actually reach there, those fuels ignite," said Kyle Foreman, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office.
Foreman said several outbuildings and power poles had been lost, but no homes have been burned and there have been no reports of injuries. The fire is burning mixed grasses and sage brushes and is still currently threatening homes, crops and infrastructure. Foreman stated that deputies were going door to door telling people in the level 3 evacuation zone to leave their homes. Officers were also assisting with the removal of livestock.
"Firefighting at night in a wildfire is very dangerous so progress was good but was not as good as it could've been had it been in daylight," said Foreman.
The town of Smyrna was evacuated Tuesday morning and incident command has stated they will not cancel the Level 3 evacuation notice for the area. A Red Cross shelter is open at Royal Intermediate School for all evacuees.