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An overnight arson-related fire at Anderson Hay and Grain triggered a three-alarm response, according to Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue Chief John Sinclair.

Smoke from the blaze could be seen into the morning, with access roads closed near the site, including Railroad Avenue. Sinclair said no injuries were reported at the scene. He said the first call came in at 10:47 p.m. with reports of smoke in the area around the facility. He said the engine company that responded pulled out on the apron and saw the blaze, calling in a second alarm.

“They arrived to find a large hay storage barn fully loaded with hay, probably about 1,000 tons that was completely on fire from stem to stern,” Sinclair said. “They began to attack that fire and were notified by law enforcement of another fire three barns down.”

Sinclair said the engine company began to employ resources to the second blaze, then calling for a third alarm. As Sinclair arrived on scene as incident commander, he put in a special call for additional resources from the Yakima Training Center and Yakima Fire. Fire Districts 7 and 1 responded to the blaze. In total, Sinclair said 11 engines, five water tenders, additional support vehicles and approximately 55 fire fighters responded to the incident.

“We were able to muster enough resources that we were able to staff both fires,” Sinclair said. “We were able to hold the fire in the large barn in check. We could not put it out, so the decision was made to go ahead and let it burn. It’s actually better for the operation.”

Upon arriving on scene, Sinclair said he was informed by the site safety manager that an individual had gone into one of the storage buildings. Law enforcement was notified of the individual, and Sinclair proceeded on to focus on the fire.

Aug. 25 arrest records show that a 24-year old Ellensburg male was arrested by Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputies for arson and criminal trespassing. Sheriff Clay Myers confirmed that the individual arrested was connected to the blaze. He said credit lies with the employee at the site that witnessed the suspect and reported him to law enforcement.

“That ultimately led to that individual’s arrest on Anderson property,” Myers said. “We really appreciate this guy’s awareness and willingness to come seek us out right away.”

Anderson Hay and Grain CEO Mark Anderson said the majority of the lost hay was in the barn that contained approximately 1,000 tons, with the second barn holding a relatively insignificant amount. He said the swift actions of both his employees and first responders had a marked effect on the outcome of the incident.

“The response of our crews on our night shift were pretty incredible to get everybody here on time and also make sure the suspect was found,” he said. “Law enforcement was all over this, and we are fortunate in this valley that the fire department knows how to handle hay fires really well. To keep it contained and have a really good strategy to get it put out is impressive for sure.”

Chief Sinclair said crews are still on the scene and will remain there for the next couple of days.

“We were able to get the one fire pretty much knocked down,” he said. “The fire in the large barn is just going to have to burn.”

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