More help arrives to help on Schneider Springs Fire as red flag fire warning in effect
Yakima Herald-Republic (WA)
Aug. 14—Updated 10:30 a.m. Saturday: More strike teams of engines and firefighters arrived Friday to help fight the Schneider Springs Fire burning 18 miles northwest of Naches, with structure protection efforts focused along the Bumping River and the State Route 410.
A Saturday morning update said the uncontained fire is at 15,049 acres, up from 13,665 acres the previous day, with heavy smoke blanketing the area, according to an update from the fire incident team.
One firefighter suffered a heat-related illness and was treated and released by a local hospital.
Approximately 350 people are fighting the fire, with 17 engines, nine crews, five bulldozers and five water tenders. A red flag fire warning is in effect from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, with winds forecast to move the fire direction north-northeast-east toward the State Route 410 corridor.
"Breezy conditions with gusts up to 20 mph are forecasted," the update said. "Residents can expect to see an increased presence of fire personnel in and around properties and home both there and along the Bumping River Road."
Evacuation notices remain the same. An extension to a forest closure is pending and will cover the northwest portion of the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area to State Route 410 and north of 410 in the Little Naches drainage, the update said. Officials have been notifying people in recreation areas.
Firefighters worked to assess and map structures and properties in the Bumping River drainage and State Route 410 corridor on Friday. They also wrapped the Little Bald Mountain repeater to maintain radio communication. It is used by local fire, police, EMS and the Forest Service.
A public meeting is planned at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Nile-Cliffdell Fire Department at 13670 State Route 410. Parking is at the Jim Sprick Community Park.
Updated 5:30 p.m. Friday: The Schneider Springs Fire nearly doubled in size from Thursday to Friday as property owners and residents in the Bumping River corridor and Goose Prairie kept an anxious eye on developments.
Incident management team spokesperson Mary Wood said Friday that winds and humidity led to an unexpected explosion of growth over the past 24 hours, doubling the fire's size to 13,665 acres as it breached Old Scab Mountain. Ground resources are focused almost completely on Bumping River Road and the west edge of the fire as it approaches the Goose Prairie area.
The 300-person team added smoke jumpers and some additional hand crews and engine strike teams on Thursday. Aircraft are standing by and waiting for smoke to clear enough for them to fly and provide assistance. It is unsafe to fly in heavy smoke.
On Friday, fire crews were conducting the same structure assessments in the Goose Prairie area as they have been on the State Route 410 corridor, according to a late afternoon update on Facebook from the Yakima County Sheriff's Office. Firefighters were scouting fire line locations, places to put in pumps, access to structures and mapping all the buildings, the update said. It's all preparation to defend the area from possible future fire spread. Those with questions should call 509-653-1468, according to the post.
The Goose Prairie area includes several dozen cabins, some of which are occupied year-round, the historic Camp Fife Boy Scout camp and U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas' beloved getaway, which was built in the mid-1960s.
Dean Wierman of Yakima, whose family has owned a cabin in Goose Prairie since the 1950s, saw Old Scab Mountain ablaze Thursday night. On Friday, he was glad to see more trucks driving around on the road near his cabin. They included firefighters contracted by insurance companies to assess, like other firefighters, how to best protect the buildings. But sprinklers or other protection hadn't yet been set up, he said.
There's been a lot of talk about the fire moving into the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area but there are people who live in the region full or part-time, Wierman said. They know firefighter resources are stretched thin and are all concerned as it gets closer.
"Right now it's all smoky and we can't see a thing," Wierman said late Friday afternoon. "It's really close, probably a couple hundred feet on the other side of the (Bumping) River."
Wood said more closures along the State Route 410 corridor could be forthcoming and they're encouraging anyone with weekend plans in the area to instead try somewhere else. Containment lines to the north and east continue to hold well, although Wood said a new weather system could shift the wind and put significantly more pressure on those lines as the fire tries to move northeast.
Evacuation levels along the Bumping River Road corridor were moved up to Level 3 "go now" on Thursday. State Route 410 from Eagle Rock north and west to Bumping River Road is in a Level 2 "get set" evacuation.
The fire, which was caused by lightning on Aug. 3, is burning about 18 miles northwest of Naches.
Forest Service roads 1800, 1700, 1600 and 1500 are closed, as well as the forest area between State Route 410 and U.S. Highway 12. Rimrock Lake remains open to use.
People can sign up for Everbridge to get notifications. Yakima Valley Emergency Management and the Yakima County Sheriff's Office provide updated information on their Facebook pages. They handle evacuation orders.
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