A brush fire broke out around 4 p.m. Sunday in the 25000 block of 188th Avenue Southeast near the Covington/Maple Valley area.
Skies were already hazy from smoke in British Columbia. And when this brush fire broke out, flames spread through very dry brush and added to the smoke.
The smoke lowered visibility so much, the Washington State Patrol shut down three miles of Highway 18 westbound in the area.
“It was crazy,” said Porter Wallace, who lives in the neighborhood. “To see all the flames, all the ash, it was a completely different landscape."
You can tell in video shared by the Puget Sound Fire Authority how close the fire got to homes - about 30 feet.
Fire crosses fireline. Fire crews abandon— Puget Sound Fire (@PugetSoundFire) August 20, 2018
Abandon hose line and move towards Hwy 18. pic.twitter.com/rQKJzbF5Gt
“I was taking a nap and just woke up, from just the smell of the smoke coming in my room,” Wallace said. “I saw flames, I was out there with big buckets of water trying to put it out."
The neighborhood is down a private drive has no fire hydrants. The closest water source is about a half mile away.
“That was initially a big challenge,” said Keith Kepler with Puget Sound Fire. “We brought in our largest engine which has the largest tank, and other engines ferry water from a hydrant to that and keep the water going."
As the fire spread, smoke from the fire clouded Hwy 18 and troopers shut part of it down, causing a backup for miles.
“We know that it causes inconvenience for our citizens, but for safety we did shut down westbound lanes,” Kepler said.
Another challenge for crews: the rough terrain
“It’s difficult to get through the brush,” Kepler said.
A helicopter from WA DNR came in to help.
“It really made a difference as far as the push the fire had,” Kepler said.
The fire burned about 5 acres.
“We've done so much to save this from overdevelopment, and this is everything to us, so see it go up in smoke is devastating,” said Kammie Lisenb, another neighbor.
Luckily, no one got hurt
Fire investigators are looking into what started the fire. Crews will be on scene overnight to make sure any flames stay within the perimeter of the fire and keep putting out flare ups.
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