New Evacuation Orders as Crews Battle 7,000-Acre Burbank Fire

A fire burns by Interstate 82. Photo via Evan Abell / Yakima Herald-Republic

Pat Muir

Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.

(MCT)

Jul. 12–The Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management announced a Level 2 evacuation Sunday evening for an area east of Interstate 82 and north of the Yakima Training Center as crews continued to battle the 7,000-acre Burbank Fire.

Residents on East Pomona Road, north of Selah Creek on the hillside off state Route 821, and in the area east of Tipp Road north to the Training Center were asked to be ready to leave immediately under Level 2, said Horace Ward, office operations manager. There are roughly 20 homes in the area, he said.

The new evacuation recommendations came as crews tried to hold the fire north of the Selah Creek Drainage.

“They’re concerned that the fire is pushing to the south,” said Nancy Jones, a spokesperson for the fire’s incident management team.

Two helicopters and two scooper planes were dropping water in the area, with coordination coming from a higher-flying air-attack plane, she said. They have also ordered retardant.

“But it’s really trying to make a run out of there right now,” Jones said about 5:15 p.m.

Photo via Evan Abell / Yakima Herald-Republic

Earlier Sunday, the Emergency Management Office had downgraded evacuation recommendations for areas nearer to Terrace Heights. At about 9 p.m. Saturday the office issued Level 2 and 3 evacuation notices – be ready to leave immediately, and “go now,” respectively – for the area north of Roza Hill Drive and east of North 57th Street south of the Yakima Training Center and along Chapman Road. But by 9:30 a.m. Sunday the danger to homes had diminished and the evacuation was reduced to Level 1.

The fire was at 7,000 acres at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jones said, and was 50% contained. Those numbers were not updated by early Sunday evening, she said.

“Crews worked diligently through the night and were able to stop the spread of the fire to the south and southeast,” Jones said Sunday morning.

By evening, though, it was clear that work remained.

“It’s not giving up yet,” Jones said of the fire.

It started around 4:30 p.m. Saturday near Burbank Creek off the Yakima Training Center and spread quickly to the southeast, traveling through the canyon between Yakima Ridge and Umtanum Ridge. The fire reached 5,000 acres by 8:30 p.m., closing westbound Interstate 82 near Selah. The highway was reopened around midnight.

It did not begin on Training Center land, Jones said. But Training Center firefighters joined firefighters from Selah, Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue, Yakima, Yakima County District 5, and the state Department of Natural Resources in fighting the fire Saturday. U.S. Forest Service crews joined the effort, as did the Army Reserves.

The cause of the fire has not been identified.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter Sunday morning at Summitview Church of Christ, 100 N. 72nd Ave., for those displaced by the fire, according to its Twitter account.

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