• Costs ratchet up as crews look to contain stubborn Taylor Bridge Fire


    Washington state fire officials project that they will spend about $19.8 million on emergency fire suppression activities in the current fiscal year that ends next June.

    That is expected to far surpass the $11.2 million the agency was allotted for such work, meaning the Department of Natural Resources will have to ask the Legislature for supplemental funds.

    Fire crews hope to fully contain the week-old Taylor Bridge Fire by Wednesday, Aug. 29, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reported on Thursday.

    The fire has destroyed 57 homes, authorities said.

    The fire, burning near Cle Elum, was 90 percent contained

    On Tuesday, our reporters found a crew from Salem, Oregon, “mopping up” hotspots still left from a fire that spread across about 100 acres near Swauk Prairie Road.

    “It’s calming down a little bit,” said Fermin Thomas Corona. “We’re finding hotspots here and there, trying to put them out, suppress them.”

    The crew actually set some of the land on fire as part of the strategy to bring the fire under control. Steve DeCoop, who’s overseeing work at the site, said the practice, known as a burnout, involves setting a field alight to help corral the larger blaze.

    “We put fire on the ground and bring it to a spot where we can defend it,” he said. “And we connect the main fire to the burnout, and then we connect the burnout to the control line, which is what we’re standing on here.”

    When it works, as DeCoop said it had at Swauk Prairie Road, it stops the fire in its tracks.

    The Taylor Bridge Fire has already been destructive, claiming some five dozen homes and cabins.

    The Oregon crew, which had spent seven long days there since the fire broke out, said it sees the value in the smoky, dirty work.

    “It cuts down the old growth, the fuel that’s inside,” Corona said. “Nature takes its course, but we help it out.”

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