SUNNYSIDE While several new blazes have popped up, officials say they are getting a handle on the wildfires burning in Yakima and Benton counties.
According to the latest report from the fireline, the 176,000-acre Range 12 Fire that began at the Yakima Firing Center is now 90 percent contained.
The fire is now mostly burning on federally-managed public lands in Benton County, officials said. And no residences are currently threatened.
With the blaze nearing containment, officials today are taking steps to return fire management to local jurisdiction; Northwest Incident Management Team 8 is currently in command.
Today, 177 firefighters, 17 engines and two camp crews are working to contain the blaze that started July 30.
Officials say fire crews expect to have the fire fully contained sometime today.
As a result, fire crews are being released to battle other blazes across the state. And helitack and fixed-wing fire bombers have been dispatched to other areas.
Last night, fire crews still on scene patrolled the perimeter looking for hot spots. An infrared flight overnight showed few heat signatures, officials said.
Crews also made ground yesterday on containing the Halfway Fire, burning in a wooded area 25 miles west of Naches.
Two helitack teams yesterday dropped water on remaining hotspots keeping the blaze to about 75 acres, fire officials said. As of last night, the blaze was 40 percent contained.
Today, crews are expected to reinforce fire lines.
The Halfway Fire began July 31 and 240 firefighters are currently assigned.
Some evacuation notices remain posted for the area, include:
Level I — Cliffdell, Indian Flats, Hawks Nest, Idlewild and the Cliffdell Recreation area. Level I notices mean fire is in the area.
Level II — Cedar Springs Recreation Area. Level II means fire is a threat and residents should be prepared to leave on short notice.
Level III — Camp Roganunda, Crag, Stillwater, Halfway Flat and Sawmill Flat. Level III means fire is imminent and residents should leave.
Under Washington state law, residents are not required to leave their homes.
Fire officials say motorists in the fire area along state Highway 410 should keep moving.
Yesterday, gawkers stopped to watch helitack teams draw water from the Naches River, creating a potential safety issue, fire officials said.
“Low-flying aircraft of all types present a hazard to people on the ground,” a written statement said. “Despite how intriguing these aerial operations may be, fire managers caution the public to observe them from a safe distance.
“A loss of power or other equipment failure could have grave consequences for anyone too close to the aircraft.”
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest officials managing the public lands in the vicinity of the fire have issued access to Boulder Cave, as well as Boulder Cave Trail and Forest Service Road No. 1704.
Because of the fire danger, forest officials have also issued new campfire restrictions for Chelan, Kittitas and Yakima counties.
Beginning at 1 a.m. Friday, campfires will only be allowed in established campgrounds and designated wilderness areas. The new fire ban also prohibits grills and fires using charcoal briquettes.
Campers using liquid gas stoves or enclosed solid fuels are exempt.
“Fire managers on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest remind hikers, campers and recreationists to be extremely careful with any use of fire in the outdoors this summer,” a U.S. Forest Service statement said. “Escaped campfires are the leading cause of human-caused wildland fires on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
“Campfires typically become problems when campers fail to completely extinguish them before leaving campsites.
Several other fires are also burning around Washington state.
Antilon Lake Fire — This blaze burning near Manson is 95 percent contained. The fire is about 315 acres, burning in timber and sage steppe on state Department of Natural Resources managed land.
Kewa Fire — Burning near Keller, the fire is currently 1,845 acres. The blaze began Tuesday on the Colville Indian Reservation.
North Touchet Fire — This human-caused fire is burning near Dayton, having consumed 536 acres. It is considered 93 percent contained.
Road 10 Fire — The fire burning near Stratford northwest of Moses Lake is estimated to be about 3,280. The fire is burning in dry grass and sage steppe between Stratford Road and state Highway 17. Crews today are mopping up the fire, which is 95 percent contained.
Snake River Complex — Burning 12 miles northeast of Pomeroy, it is 10 percent contained at about 1,0000 acres. Approximately 26 firefighters have been assigned to the blaze that has destroyed one outbuilding. The fire jumped the Snake River on Tuesday.