Grass, sagebrush fire closes state highway

Crews still mopping up 300-acre blaze

Although slow moving, fire consumes this sagebrush.

Photo by Jennie McGhan
Although slow moving, fire consumes this sagebrush.

— Officials are trying to determine what caused a brush fire yesterday that burned 300 acres and closed state Highway 241 for four hours.

The highway closed at 3:50 p.m. after Yakima County Fire District No. 5, neighbors, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife all started battling the blaze between mileposts 20 and 23.

It closed about an hour after the fire was first reported “… due to smoke over the roadway,” Washington State Department of Transportation officials said.

Motorists were turned away at Independence Road on the south and milepost 25 on the north side of the highway when the closure was extended at about 6 p.m.

The highway re-opened just before 8 p.m.

The area’s hills and terrain made it difficult for firefighters to reach all parts of the slow-moving fire,.

Neighbors responded with water tanks and backpacks. They attempted to assist firefighters on the highway side, as well as in nearby fields.

Chief Brian Vogel of the fire district said 20 firefighters from his district were on scene.

“A couple hours into it we started getting some rain, which assisted us in containing the fire,” he said.“It will definitely help BLM (the Bureau of Land Management) with mop up today,” he said.


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