Wildfire forces evacuations in
I-90 Shut Down
July 10, 2018
File photo. Vantage wildfire, 2017. Image courtesy NE Fire Blog
(VANTAGE, WA.) – Fire officials have ordered Level 3 evacuations (means “imminent danger”) for the tiny village of Vantage, Washington (pop. Under 200) due to a wildfire that erupted late Monday night not far from the community.
The fire, from unknown origins erupted about 11:00 pm Monday night and forced about 120 people to evacuate their homes, according to Kittitas Valley Fire Chief John Sinclair.
The blaze is called the Ryegrass Coulee Fire for its location in Ryegrass Coulee in Vantage. By 11:15 pm last night, “An exploding wildfire” was reported to fire and police officials, burning at mile post 133 next to Interstate 90, according to NW Fire Blog which noted the blaze was “wind-driven” and that it had jumped the eastbound lanes and was burning into the median of the highway. A request for additional resources was made at that time.
Just after midnight the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office began issuing evacuation orders for people in Vantage. With the fire moving so quickly, road blocks were established at mile post 115 and to the east side of the Columbia River, according to NWFB and by 12:30 am the size of the fire was deemed to be around 100 to 200 acres and around 5 miles from the town of Vantage. Fire crews were working to protect the town’s water tower and its structures.
Shortly after 1:30 am the Vantage Highway was shut down and officials were “evacuating the town urgently.” By 2:00 am, some 300-plus acres of grass and brush had burned, the fire’s behavior was “extreme and spreading rapidly,” according to NWFB.
By late Tuesday morning the fire had consumed over 1,000 acres.
The Kittitas County Sheriff;s office said three people chose to remain in their homes when evacuations were ordered. The Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees in George, Washington at the George Community Hall located at 403 W. Montmorency Blvd.
Interstate 90 is closed in both directions from milepost 115, east of Ellensburg to milepost 137, just east of the Vantage Bridge, according to the state transportation dept.. Eastbound traffic is stopped at the Kittitas Exit 115, six miles east of Ellensburg, and westbound traffic is stopped at Exit 137.