Montecito residents threatened by another fire

Fire is second in fewer than two years

Fire rages across the Painted Hills near Montecito

West Benton Fire and Rescue
Fire rages across the Painted Hills near Montecito

— It was nearly 23 months ago when Montecito Estates residents had to evacuate for the Ward Gap Fire.

They found themselves in another precarious position, evacuating again for the latest fire to strike the Painted Hills on the evening of Wednesday, June 27.

The wildfire started at about 7:30 p.m., requiring a response from firefighters from throughout the region and state.

State fire assistance was mobilized for the 1,877-acre fire at about midnight June 18 at the request of Acting Fire Chief Todd Dormaier of West Benton Fire and Res-cue District 3.

The fire was estimated at 2,500 acres at the time of the mobilization, Washing-ton State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a press re-lease.

Level 2 evacuation efforts were initiated, and the fire was threatening homes, crops and infrastructure, he said. Residents from East Richards Road to Lincoln Grade along state Highway 22 were evacuated.

Wheat crops atop the Horse Heavens were decimated by the blaze, officials said.

Challenging firefighters at the scene were windy conditions, dry ground cover and landscape.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It was deemed 80 percent contained as of 6 a.m. Thursday.


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