CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — Weather conditions were favorable to firefighting efforts on Wednesday as cooler temperatures and higher humidity moderated fire behavior, according to the Nakia Creek Fire Information Team. As of Wednesday the fire is at 23% contained, a huge jump from the 12% containment on Tuesday.
Containment lines on the Nakia Creek Fire continued to hold and progress was made on Tuesday. Fire was at 1,796 acres and had increased to 12% contained, according to the Nakia Creek Fire Information Team.
Tuesday night, Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 2 will have firefighters continue to create fire lines to contain the fire to the smallest size possible and preserve the area's natural resources while keeping firefighters and residents safe.
Evacuation notices remain the same for those impacted by the fire.
The fire broke containment lines on Sunday, prompting emergency officials to quickly expand evacuation levels to Level 3 (Go Now) for nearly 3,000 people.
By Monday, Clark Regional Emergency Services (CRESA) reported the zones were starting to decrease and updated its interactive map with the new evacuation zones.
Red Cross Cascades opened a shelter location in Washougal at the request of CRESA. The evacuation shelter is at the Camas Church of the Nazarene, located at 2204 Northeast Birch Street in Camas.
Dwight Daley, his wife and their three dogs evacuated from their Washougal home on Sunday. Besides their pets, Daley said he left with only the clothes he was wearing.
“I just never expected to be in a situation where you have someone from the fire department going, ‘Okay, you've got three minutes get out of there!’” said Daley.
At first, Daley said he checked into in a motel. But when his dogs started barking, he knew he couldn't stay. That's when he found the Red Cross shelter at Camas Church of the Nazarine, which was pet-friendly.
“They were fantastic,” said Daley. “I come in a 1:00 a.m. and it's like, ‘Okay the king has arrived! Let's get everything going, you got food over here, blankets over here, bedding over here.'”
The Humane Society for Southwest Washington brought in animal crates, bedding and food to help the Red Cross care for evacuees' pets. On Sunday night, nearly 30 people stayed at the church and most brought at least one pet with them.
“You know (being able to help) means the world,” said Laura Jean Skiles with HSSW. “It means a family is together and they know that their pets are with them. They don't have to worry, the can just focus on staying safe.”
The Nakia Creek Fire started on Sunday, Oct. 9 and is burning north of Camas near Larch Mountain. The fire grew to more 1,500 acres this weekend after strong east winds fanned the flames. On Saturday, crews had the fire held at 150 acres, but conditions quickly changed Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
On Monday, an incident management team from the Oregon Department of Forestry took control of firefighting efforts for Nakia Creek, bringing in an administrative crew of more than 50 people to help coordinate the roughly 300 firefighters on the ground. Officials said 140 more firefighters were expected by Tuesday.
During a briefing Monday afternoon, fire officials said no structures have burned and nobody has been injured.
"Those are two big wins right there," said Sharon Steriti, spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
The Clark County Sheriff's Office reported Monday afternoon that they reopened several roads, including, Northeast 53rd Street to Northeast 292nd Avenue and Northeast Blair Road up to SR-500. Road closures remain in the areas of Lessard, Ireland, Livingston Mountain, Boulder Creek and Winters, as well as the L1000 and L1400 roads, CCSO said.
The Washougal School District canceled all classes on Monday to help those forced to evacuate do so safely. Two schools in the Washougal School District – Cape Horn-Skye Elementary and Canyon Creek Middle School – are in mandatory evacuation zones. Mt. Pleasant School also canceled classes Monday to support families who need to evacuate.
Inmates at the Larch Corrections Center were evacuated and are being housed at temporary alternate sites at other Washington State Department of Correction facilities.
The fire is believed to have been "human-caused," but Washington state officials are still trying to determine exactly how the flames sparked. The Clark County Fire Marshal's Office said it's looking for a vehicle of interest in connection to that investigation. A white or light-colored Subaru vehicle was seen on video on the day the fire sparked along a ridge near where it's burning.
Here's what the evacuation levels mean
Level 1 (Be Ready): Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area and monitor local media outlets for information. Residents with special needs should take note and begin making arrangements to evacuate. Evacuations at this time are voluntary.
Level 2 (Be Set): This level indicates there is significant danger to your area, and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready at a moment's notice. Emergency services cannot guarantee that they will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate.
Level 3 (Go Now): Danger to your area is current or imminent, and you should leave immediately. Listen to local media and watch for emergency personnel who may be coming by to give further instructions regarding the evacuation.