Explosive fires torch areas near Sumner homes, where fires never burned before

SUMNER, Wash. — As explosively growing wind-blown wildfires devoured a stretch of wooded hillside around homes and farms in Sumner, firefighters streamed in from across a region to save neighborhoods, dousing flames from land and air.

“I think they’re doing an outstanding job out there,” says Roger Knutson, who lived and worked on his family farm near the burning ridge for 76 years.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

The biggest enemy for firefighters has been the wind, which can carry burning embers into nearby neighborhoods in Bonney Lake, where evacuations were underway Tuesday and were expanded on Wednesday morning.

Falling burning embers started new spot fires as effectively as dropping burning matches in tinder dry brush.

The challenge for firefighters was accessing steep terrain where trees exploded in fireballs like enormous Roman candles.

Linz Philips, who had been evacuated with his wife Tuesday morning, said leaving his home and belongings in the hands of firefighters was an act of faith—which required perspective to avoid despair.

“It makes you realize what’s really important in life,” Phillips said. "It’s your loved ones, it’s your pets it’s your heirlooms and remembrances. “And what’s most important to us is our faith, and so, we just trust.”