Photo by Roger Harnack
An aircraft drops water it collected from the Columbia River onto the Silver Dollar Fire along state Highway 24.
As of Wednesday, July 12, 2017
VERNITA With more than 400 personnel on the ground, fire crews yesterday reached the halfway point on containing the Silver Dollar Fire.
The blaze that began about noon Sunday near the Silver Dollar Cafe, 30501 State Highway 24, was about 60 percent contained yesterday, Incident Management Team 2 Incident Commander Chris Hutsell said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The fire began north of Sunnyside as two fires — one on either side of the cafe at the intersection of state High-way 241.
Burning in dry grass and sage, the fire grew together and raced along state Highway 24 east toward Hanford.
State Department of Transportation officials Sunday closed the highway as more than five aircraft bombarded the blaze with water and fire retardant. The highways reopened after 6 p.m. Monday.
“There are no evacuation notices and no closures at this time,” an incident command press release said yesterday.
The notice came after more than a day of road closures in the area of the fire.
State Highways 24 and 240 were closed from state Highway 241 at the Sunnyside turnoff to Hanford to Vernita Bridge.
“Firefighters worked long, arduous hours building containment lines and securing the perimeter of the Silver Dollar Fire,” the press release said. “Burnout operations effectively stopped fire growth along many portions of the fire.
Public access to the Columbia River was halted at Vernita to allow for helitack and fire bombers too scoop up water in the Priest Rapids area.
“A night shift was implemented last night to continue the fire suppression effort and ensure the fire did not escape established containment lines,” the press release said.
On Sunday, fire crews secured fire lines and began mopping up burning debris in the fire area.
They also began smoothing out dozer lines and berms, and constructing water bars to limit erosion.
Crews also began repairing fences they had to cut to get crews and equipment into fire areas.
For a brief period yesterday, aerial operations were halted.
“A drone was spotted, shutting down all aerial firefighting operations,” a post on the incident information page said. “Reminder — No drones over wildfires.”
As fire crews close in on containing the Silver Dollar Fire, other crews are already mopping up the Spartan, Suther-land Canyon and Straight Hollow fires burning in Douglas, Chelan and Grant counties.
The Sutherland Canyon and Straight Hollow fires grew to a total of 37,316 acres between Quincy and East Wenatchee before being contained.
The Spartan Fire near Chelan was contained after consuming 8,730 acres southwest of Wenatchee.
Management of those fires has been turned over to local agencies.