SEATTLE -- A wildfire in Central Washington has erupted from 2,800 to more than 28,000 acres, destroying at least 70 homes as it moved near Cle Elum, east of Seattle.
Flames from the Taylor Bridge Wildfire, burning between Highway 97 and Interstate 90 northwest of Cle Elum, also forced the evacuation of at least another 400 homes after winds shifted, blowing toward several subdivisions.
According to firefighters' maps, some of the houses and structures that have burned are located near Taylor and Durango Road near Indian John Hill, and Ellensburg Ranches Road and Notcho Lane near Highway 97. There is no containment line around the fire yet.
Gov. Chris Gregoire declared a state of emergency for Kittitas and Yakima counties. The proclamation, issued Tuesday afternoon, was requested by the state Department of Natural Resources, and will allocate additional firefighting resources to the fast-moving wildfire.
Construction crews working on the Taylor Bridge Project caused the initial brush fire Monday, according to Rick Scriven of Eastside Fire and Rescue.
It started as a brush fire at 1:00 p.m. Monday along SR 10, between Cle Elum and Thorp at Taylor and Hart Road. By midnight it had grown to 16,000 acres and by 2:00 a.m. it had reached nearly 27,000 acres.
With the fire escalating, firefighters and state resources from around Washington can be sent to aid the regional firefighters. Among the hundreds of firefighters on fire lines Tuesday are 140 inmates from the Washington Department of Corrections, ordered there by Gregoire.
Wind is expected to be a factor for firefighters over the next several days, but lightning is not in the forecast until the weekend.
A waking nightmare:
Hundreds of people awoke to firefighters at their door, ordering them out of their homes and out of the way of the oncoming fire.
"We were told around 2:30 this morning to get out as soon as possible. We grabbed our St. Bernard dog 'Big' and drove down to the roadblock," said Tammy Damore who lives in a subdivision along Sunlight Road in Cle Elum.
A number of people on Sunlight Road spent the night in their cars, parked at the roadblock.
Firefighters with Kittitas County Fire District 1 have been working the fire all night. Firefighter Brian Cavanaugh has had no break since the flames ignited Monday afternoon.
"We're all tired, but we want to go up and protect those homes," said Cavanaugh.
Tamie Goad came to check on her mother who lives in the subdivision. She learned her mother was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
"I'll be checking on her later, but I want to see if her house is okay," said Goad. "All we can do is wait and hope for the best, but it's going to a long day."