Taylor Bridge Fire still only 25% contained

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UPDATE (5:38 p.m.): KIRO 7’s Graham Johnson was with fire crews Thursday as they battled the Taylor Bridge Fire near the Hidden Valley area, where tree torching threatened to become a real problem.

“If it starts really getting up a lot, then we have to maybe worry about a crown fire,” said Marcus Jones with the Department of Natural Resources. “If it does that, you just get out of the way because there’s not a lot you can do about it.”

Fortunately, outbreaks of flame were isolated on the hillside midday.

There was an incredible amount of smoke, which made firefighting efforts challenging for crews in the air and on the ground.

“It can be (nerve-wracking) at times,” Burien firefighter Will Spruill said. “It’s a dangerous job, but it’s rewarding, too, to make sure that nobody else is going to have further loss now that we’re here.”

Johnson spotted people doing everything they could to protect their houses.

Robert Saraceno keeps having to evacuate his dream home.

“We put everything into it, so knowing it could be gone – it’s kind of hard to swallow sometimes,” he said.

Commanders overseeing the blaze said their big concern now is that the fire will spread north to Blewett Pass.

“There’s a lot of pine beetle dead trees up there,” Jones said.

Some 900 firefighters are working hard to keep that from happening.

As of Thursday afternoon, the fire was 25 percent contained – the same amount of containment as that time Wednesday.


UPDATE (4:33 p.m.): Here's video taken by Chopper 7 on Thursday afternoon of some of the efforts to fight the fire.


UPDATE (4:18 p.m.): Puget Sound Energy said it has a major transmission line that is de-energized.  However, because the company redirected it a few days ago, it estimates that only five or six homes in the fire zone are out of power.  That number could go up as people begin to come back into the fire zone.  

PSE said it's still trying to assess total numbers since workers haven't been allowed into most of the fire zone to assess damage.  


UPDATE (3:59 p.m.): We just posted a new slideshow of Chopper 7 images taken over the fire, and some of the damaged areas. We'll post raw video from that same flight shortly.


UPDATE (2:59 p.m.): Officials have released a new map of the fire's boundaries, available at this link: inciweb.org/incident/map/3152/0/


UPDATE (2:37 p.m.): The DNR said during its Thursday morning press briefing that it's likely the fire won't be entirely out until the weather puts it out.

"It's going to continue to burn in the mountainous areas, there's no doubt about it," public information officer Michael Mueller said. "You get a fire this scale, a wild land fire like this, it's going to continue to burn.

"When we have a forest fire of this scale, of this magnitude...weather puts it out," he added. "Winter rains, winter snows will put the fire out."


UPDATE (1:57 p.m.): A representative from Holiday Inn Express in Ellensburg told KIRO 7 the hotel doesn't need any more donations of clothing or food, and that monetary donations to the Red Cross or United Way would be the most helpful at this point. The rep said she'd talked to DNR officials and people at the fire camps, and that the hotel had been taking point on donations.


UPDATE (11:09 a.m.):  The first reports of injuries were announced late Thursday morning by Michael Mueller, a public information officer representing the DNR. One firefighter suffered minor facial burns, and another was treated for dehydration.

Mueller reiterated that firefighting efforts Thursday are focused on the Hidden Valley region, and that workers will specifically be looking to keep the flames away from major highways, and homes and developments in the area.


UPDATE (10:28 a.m.): The Daily Record reports that officials said they prevented any new structures from being burned Wednesday.

No new evacuation orders have been issued since Wednesday, and the fire didn't grow overnight. DNR officials told the Record there aren't any more evacuations predicted for Thursday, but that could change at any point, depending on conditions.


UPDATE (8:52 a.m.): We're expecting an update from officials at about 10 a.m. We'll livestream that update if possible.


Firefighters said Thursday they plan to focus on the Hidden Valley area in Central Washington as they continue to battle the Taylor Bridge Fire that broke out Monday.

For updates from KIRO 7 and other people and news organizations, check #TaylorBridgeFire on Twitter.

Officials said the fire is across 22,000 acres and is at 25 percent containment. They added that they’re optimistic progress would be made Thursday.

Hidden Valley is located roughly in the area near where highways 97 and 970 meet.

On Wednesday, incident commander Rex Reed, with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, said he believed it would be 5-7 days before the fire was fully contained.

Firefighters said they wanted to dispel two rumors:

  1. The fire has NOT jumped Interstate 90.
  2. Highway 970 is still open.