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Evacuations ordered as wildfire approaches Douglas County community

July 11, 2015 Updated Sat., July 11, 2015 at 11:33 p.m.

UPDATE: 11:30 p.m. July 11, 2015: Kevin Danby, general manager of the Rimrock Meadows Community, said late tonight that the evacuation was ordered as a result of a shift in the wind toward Rimrock Meadows. But he said the fire as far as he knows has not burned on the 7,100 acres that are part of the community. He said there are 1,200 members of Rimrock Meadows. Most camp on their land and can drive away. He said there are only a half dozen permanent homes. After the evacuation order came, he said the road to Ephrata “looked like I-5 in Seattle.” He added that Moses Coulee lies between the fire and Rimrock.

Fires that started Friday evening in Douglas County have grown to nearly 18,000 acres in size and prompted a mandatory Level 3 evacuation for the Rimrock Meadows Community, as of Saturday night. The fires are believed to have been started by lightning strikes Friday night, said Bill Slosson, chief deputy state fire marshal. The Jameson Lake fire, which is east of Waterville, Washington is burning in dry pastures and wheat fields. Slosson estimates it is 7,700 acres and 50 percent contained, as of Saturday evening. The Rimrock-Wagon Wheel fire, about 30 miles southeast of Waterville also started Friday. It’s comprised of number of smaller fires scattered around the area, Slosson said. These fires total roughly 10,000 acres, he said. Combined the fires have grown to an estimated 17,700 acres and are threatening homes and standing wheat fields. Rimrock Meadows is about 17 miles northwest of Ephrata.State fire assistance has been mobilized in support of the Douglas County Complex Fire, according to a Washington State Patrol news release. The state assistance will include three hand crews, seven task forces, two rotors and one bulldozer, in addition to resources already fighting the fire. There are 200 people, two helicopters, seven bulldozers and at least 35 engines on scene, Slosson said. “It sounds like they’re making good progress,” he said. “The challenge with the Rimrock-Wagon fire wheel is finding all the fires and getting them all buttoned up.”

Below is an earlier version of this report.

Fires that started Friday evening in Douglas County have grown to nearly 10,000 acres in size. The fires are believed to have been started by lightning strikes Friday night, said Bill Slosson, chief deputy state fire marshal. The Jameson Lake fire, which is eight miles east-southeast of Waterville, Washington is burning in dry pastures and wheat fields. Slosson estimates it’s 7,000 acres. The Pine Canyon fire, 14 miles southeast of Mansfield, Washington also started Friday. It’s comprised of number of smaller fires scattered around the area, Slosson said. Combined the fires have grown to an estimated 9,600 acres and are threatening homes and standing wheat fields. As of last night a voluntary, Level 1 evacuation, order was in place for eight residents. State fire assistance has been mobilized in support of the Douglas County Complex Fire, according to a Washington State Patrol news release. The state assistance will include three hand crews, seven task forces, two rotors and one bulldozer, in addition to resources already fighting the fire.

This story is developing.
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