ENTIAT, Wash. -
- Family had to climb deer fence, slide down steep embankment
- Home was spared from flames
- Grandmother, child scratched but otherwise OK
- Evacuation level lowered from level 3 to level 2
- Fire has burned 5,500 acres
A family described its harrowing escape from a wall of flames coming toward their home from a Chelan County wildfire.
KIRO 7 reporter Jeff Dubois met the family at a Red Cross evacuation center near Entiat Wednesday.
Elizabeth Fuller was with her mother, brother and two young children when they became trapped by the flames.
“The flames were up and over the road -- our driveway -- the only way we could get out,” said Fuller.
The fire, burning through brush, grass and trees was creeping up toward their house.
“And it formed its own wind from the heat and the high flames. It had its own momentum,” said Fuller’s mother.
The only way out was over a 6-foot deer fence. The first to go over was 5-year-old Lily. But her 7-year-old brother, who is autistic, couldn’t be convinced to scale the fence.
“I held up the fence, I held him down, put my feet on his shoulders, and (my mother) pulled and I shoved him under that hole,” said Fuller.
On the other side was a steep drop off -- a cliff the family says is home to dozens of rattlesnakes.
Luckily, as they slid to the bottom, they didn’t encounter any snakes, but Lily and her grandmother got some scratches.
Once out of harm’s way, the family was checked out by medics.
When the fire danger passed, they were escorted back up to their home, where they shot video of the charred ground around their property. Two small barns were torched in the fire, but their house was spared.
So far, the Mill Canyon fire has burned 5,500 acres. Crews are working frantically to battle the flames before winds pick up to gusts of 30 mph Wednesday afternoon.
The good news is that the fire has burned up to the top of the canyon, and most of the homes are down below.
Fire officials dropped the level 3 evacuations to level 2, allowing about 80 people to return to their homes, but they still must be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
The fire continues to be fought from the ground and the air, with planes dropping retardant and helicopters scooping up water from the Entiat River.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it’s believed to have begun with a residential fire, which was carried by the wind.