The Williams Lake fire near Cheney decreased in size, although evacuations remained Friday, and Lind residents were able to return home on Thursday evening as the fire there was reportedly under control, Department of Natural Resources officials said during a Friday morning press conference.
One Spokane Fire District 3 truck was reported lost in the Williams Lake fire as was another truck in the Lind fire on Friday morning, the department officials said. It was not clear which agency the fire engine lost in Lind belonged to.
The evacuation status in Lind was lifted on Thursday at about 8 p.m. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office announced that the fire was under control at about 8:30 p.m.
Level 3 evacuations around the Williams Lake fire remained as of Friday night, with about 150 buildings under threat. However, the fire was still 0% contained and had shrunk to about 1,600 acres, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Eric Keller said. The seeming decrease was likely due to improved aerial mapping, according to DNR spokesman Thomas Kyle-Milward.
“We had high concerns for that fire yesterday afternoon that it was going to escalate more and that did not happen,” Department of Natural Resources wildfire manager Russ Lane said during a press conference on Friday morning.
Lane said the department and local agencies were optimistic about containing the fire.
The Vantage Highway fire increased in size to 30,000 acres and remained at 21% containment as of Friday morning, Kyle-Milward said. Those numbers shrunk to 26,490 acres and 35% containment Friday afternoon, according to the Kittitas County Sheriff Facebook page.
Vantage Highway reopened on Thursday night, the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team reported. There are no evacuations listed for the area.
The Cow Canyon fire, about 13 miles southwest of Ellensburg, was at 5,600 acres and 0% containment as of Friday afternoon, according to the Kittitas County Sheriff Facebook page. That fire began on Wednesday.
Level 3 evacuations remained in parts of Kittitas County Friday afternoon as crews continued to work the Cow Canyon fire.
DNR officials were optimistic about the outlook over the next few days. While the hot and dry weather was expected to increase with warmer temperatures during the weekend, the strong winds were not expected to continue, department meteorologist Matthew Dehr said.
The late start to the fire season has put state resources and firefighters in a good spot at this point in the summer, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Hilary Franz said.
“To date, we’ve had 293 fires and we are just in the first week of fires,” she said.
Most of those have been extinguished quickly without much media attention, Lane said
Last year in April, the department was working with 225 by April, with a total of 1,875 by year’s end, Franz said.
“Right now we’re sitting in a really good place in that our resources haven’t been stretched thin and our firefighters are not exhausted like they were last year,” Franz said.
However, she also said that the fire season just started.
“It is going to get worse before it gets better,” she said.
S-R reporter Garrett Cabeza contributed to this report.
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