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Firefighters expect Conrad Fire will be 80 percent contained by July 4

UPDATED: Wed., July 4, 2018, 12:13 p.m.

Firefighters from several area agencies respond to a brush fire that started near Conrad Road in Selah, Wash. around 2 p.m. Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Shawn Gust / Yakima Herald-Republic)
Firefighters from several area agencies respond to a brush fire that started near Conrad Road in Selah, Wash. around 2 p.m. Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Shawn Gust / Yakima Herald-Republic)

NACHES, Wash. – A state incident management team is expected to turn control of the Conrad Fire near Naches back to local agencies Wednesday.

The fire, which has burned since Sunday afternoon, was expected to be at 80 percent containment Tuesday night, said Southeast Washington Incident Management Team spokesman Ben Shearer. Local firefighters will just need to patrol the fire lines to ensure it does not flare up again, he said.

The fire, which started near Conrad Road, burned approximately 5,300 acres of sagebrush and cheatgrass. Firefighters made significant headway bolstering fire breaks and containment lines Tuesday, Shearer said. Fewer than 180 firefighters were working the fire Tuesday.

Fire crews were also able to keep the fire from spreading into the area where the Wenas Fire burned last year and is now overgrown with highly flammable cheatgrass, officials said.

Winds are forecast to be in the 5-6 mph range today, according to the National Weather Service.

Shearer credited Yakima County’s Office of Emergency Management’s phone alert system with helping get word about the fire and evacuations out to residents in the area.

“Using their software, we can click on an area and get the word out to people,” Shearer said.

Another lesson from the fire is to maintain “defensible space” around homes in areas prone to wildfires. A large, well-watered lawn provides a green belt that keeps fire back from homes, Shearer said.