Clark County strike force called to big fire near Goldendale

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

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A 17-member strike force from Clark County was called to help fight the Monastery Complex fire northeast of Goldendale.

The strike team, with members representing Clark County Fire & Rescue, Washougal Fire and fire districts 3, 10 and 13, was told to expect spending at least a week fighting fires, sad Battalion Chief Gordon Brooks of Fire District 10.

The fire, which sparked around noon Wednesday, is spreading fast.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the fire burned about 1,100 acres. An update from the state Department of Natural Resources said the fire consumed more than 2,000 acres.

The fires destroyed nine homes and 10 outbuildings as of Thursday afternoon. More than 300 people have been evacuated because of the fire. It also has restricted travel on a nine-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 97.

“They’re going to have a busy day today,” Brooks said on Thursday. Brooks has assisted with more wildfires than he can count. He wasn’t able to go this time because of a foot injury, but his department sent four firefighters.

Sending staff to help with fires outside the district’s jurisdiction doesn’t have too big an effect on local response to fires, Brooks said. Each department will send a small number of people, he said.

The weather isn’t going to make fighting the Klickitat County fire any easier. Highs will be in the upper 80s and low 90s through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Starting Tuesday, things will cool off. Highs in Goldendale are expected to be in the low 80s.