Updated 11 a.m. Sunday: Fire activity was moderate Saturday night in Yakima Complex Fire in Yakima and Kittitas counties, and evacuation levels remain in effect for residents in the Lion Rock and Table Mountain area near Liberty, according to the latest update from fire commanders.

The following evacuation orders remain in effect:

Level 3 (imminent danger, residents need to leave immediately): Williams Creek, Harkness, Pine Gulch, Liberty Mountain Association, Cougar Gulch, and Boulder Creek.

Level 2 (residents should be ready to leave within 30 minutes): Liberty, Upper Green Canyon, the top of the Naneum drainage, Wilson Creek, and the Sun East housing development at the top of Robbins Road.

Level 1 (fire is in the area and residents should be prepared to leave): state Route 97 to the Liberty Cafe and the northern foothills of Lower Kittitas County.

A state-wide mobilization has been granted for the incident, which has directed extra resources to the evacuation areas. Crews are continuing to construct containment lines. An additional Type 2 Incident Management Team is being mobilized to assist fire suppression efforts in Kittitas County and will take command of the Table Rock fire on Monday.

About 6,000 acres have burned in Yakima and Kittitas counties since about 90 fires started in last weekend's lightning storm. One outbuilding has been destroyed. The fire is 10 percent contained, and 902 personnel, 77 engines, three bulldozers, nine water tenders and five helicopters are working to fight the blaze.

A Red Cross shelter for displaced residents is at the Upper County Senior Center, 719 E. Third St. in Cle Elum. Red Cross staff will provide information about emergency shelter for evacuees as well as for livestock and pets. Residents are asked to check in with the Kittitas County Sheriff emergency officials at the shelter.

The Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest has closed the area east of State Highway 97 (extending from Blewett Pass, south along Highway 97 to the vicinity of Liberty Café), along the northern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District along the county line, extending down the eastern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District and along the southern edge of the Cle Elum Ranger District.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources has closed the Naneum State Forest. A state-wide burn ban is in effect.

There is significant fire emergency traffic on Highway 97 in the Blewett Pass area. In conjunction with Washington Department of Transportation, single-lane closures are in effect on Highway 12 near Rimrock. Drivers are advised to use caution and slow down when traveling in these areas.

A strong high pressure ridge is making temperatures unseasonably warm. No precipitation is expected in the next week. Winds are out of the east 3-7 mph.

Updated 8 p.m.: The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest east of State Highway 97, the Naneum State Forest, and the town of Liberty were evacuated Saturday because of a wildfire in the Table Mountain area, according to a news release from the interagency team managing the fire.

Residents of Liberty were evacuated Saturday afternoon and urged to check in with Red Cross officials at Centennial Center, 719 E. Third, in Cle Elum. Red Cross staff will provide information about emergency shelter for evacuees as well as for livestock and pets. Horses may be boarded at the Washington State Horse Park, located just east of the Cascade Range off Interstate 90 in Cle Elum ( see www.washingtonstatehorsepark.org).

Undersheriff Clay Myers said residents have been cooperating with evacuation efforts and that deputies appreciated the support in the midst of a situation that can appear particularly threatening at night.

"We've seen an uptick in emergency calls at night when fire is visible for miles and flames can appear too close for comfort," said Myers, adding that the department's top priority is the health and safety of people. "We are keeping a close, minute-to-minute watch on the fire, and if it threatens to come near homes and property, we'll let people know right away."

The expansion of the fire has forced the closure of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest east of State Highway 97. The area extends from Blewett Pass, south along Highway 97 to the vicinity of the Liberty Café, along the northern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District on the county line, down the eastern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District, and along the southern edge of the Cle Elum Ranger District. The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has closed the Naneum State Forest to protect the safety of the public and firefighters, although the area is not directly threatened now.

U.S. Forest Service or DNR roads closed due to fire include Reecer Creek Road at Snowpark, Wilson Creek Road at the end of the county road, Coleman Canyon Road, Schnebly Canyon Road, and Cook Canyon Road.

Early Saturday morning fires in the Table Mountain area merged and now are estimated to be more than 2,500 acres. This fire is being managed as part of the Yakima Complex. By Sunday, Sept. 16, nearly 1,200 firefighters will be working on the fires in Yakima and Kittitas Counties. Firefighters are battling more than 100 fires in Kittitas and Yakima counties, which were sparked by lightning last week.

For more information please see www.inciweb.org/incident/3256. Residents affected by the fire can contact the Emergency Operations Center at 509-933-8305. For fire information please contact the Yakima Complex Information Office at 509-925-1193.


5 p.m. update: Additional fire engines have been arriving today to help with structure protection in the Liberty area north of Ellensburg, according to Sarah Foster, a fire information officer on the Yakima Complex Fire.

A wildfire in the Lion Rock-Table Mountain area north of Ellensburg prompted evacuations in Williams Creek, Harkness, Pine Gulch, Liberty Mountain Association, Cougar Gulch and Boulder Creek on Saturday afternoon.

Winds were blowing to the east at about 4 p.m. Saturday.


3 p.m. update: The expansion and merger of multiple wildfires in the Swauk Creek and Table Mountain areas have prompted the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office to order Level 1, 2 and 3 evacuations of area residents, according to a news release from the team managing the fires.

Evacuees are asked to check in with emergency officials at the Upper County Centennial Center, 719 E. Third, in Cle Elum. The evacuation notices follow a declaration of emergency by the Board of Kittitas County Commissioners this morning.

The areas affected by the evacuation order:

Level 3: Williams Creek, Harkness, Pine Gulch, Liberty Mountain Association, Cougar Gulch, and Boulder Creek.

Level 2: Liberty, Upper Green Canyon, the top of the Naneum drainage, Wilson Creek, and the Sun East housing development at the top of Robbins Road.

Level 1: state Route 97 to the Liberty Cafe and the northern foothills of Lower Kittitas County.

Red Cross representatives will be available at the Centennial Center in Cle Elum to identify the needs of evacuees and their livestock or pets. The Washington State Patrol has approved a mobilization act which will allow the release of additional fire engines and law enforcement personnel in the affected area.

The expansion of the fire has forced the closure of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest east of U.S. Highway 97 (extending from Blewett Pass, south along Highway 97 to the vicinity of Liberty Café), along the northern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District on the county line, extending down the eastern boundary of the Cle Elum Ranger District, and along the southern edge of the Cle Elum Ranger District.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has closed the entire Naneum State Forest. There is no immediate threat; however, the closure is being implemented for public and firefighter safety. DNR personnel will be in the area issuing notifications. The public will be updated as these closures expand or decrease.

The wildfires are burning in the Liberty and Table Mountain areas; the fires have grown together and are now estimated to be more than 2,500 acres.  This fire is being managed as part of the Yakima Complex Fire. More than 800 firefighters are working on the fires in Yakima and Kittitas counties, with more resources expected to arrive today, the release said.

For more information visit www.inciweb.org/incident/3256. Residents affected by the fire contact the county's emergency operations center at 509-933-8305. For fire information please contact the Yakima Complex Information Office at 509-925-1193.


 

2 p.m.: Multiple fires burning in the Blewett Pass area that were sparked by a severe lighting storm on Sept. 8 have grown overnight, according to fire information officer Sarah Foster. 

An infrared flight at about 2 a.m. today discovered the fires in the Table Mountain area grew by about 1,000 acres, Foster said. The total estimated size of the fires in that area is 2,500 acres. 

The fires are part of about 90 fires burning in Kittitas and Yakima counties — the Yakima Complex Fire. The total size is about 3,000 acres, Foster said. 

She said the fires are slowly growing, but not doing anything unexpected. Fire behavior includes torching and spotting, but nothing like the Taylor Bridge Fire behavior. 

The Kittitas Board of County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency today due to the fires. The county's emergency operations center at the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office was activated at 10:30 a.m. The number is 509-933-8305.

Undersheriff Clay Myers said deputies are in the process of notifying people in the Liberty area of the fire danger. Residents in the town of Liberty are under a Level 2 evacuation, meaning they should be ready to leave at a moment's notice. About 30 people in Williams Creek, Harkness, Pine Gulch, Liberty Mountain Association, Cougar Gulch, and Boulder Creek are being notified of a mandatory Level 3 evacuation order. Access to Level 3 evacuation zones is closed.

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