More crews head to wildfire on Yakama Indian Reservation



YAKIMA — A state fire management team traveled Tuesday to assume oversight of a lightning-sparked wildfire on the Yakama Indian Reservation, as additional storms with lightning swept through parts of Eastern Washington.

At least 115 firefighters were already at the scene of the wildfire burning in a forest in the Diamond Butte area, about 15 miles northwest of White Swan on a closed area of the reservation.

The state team was responding to aid those efforts because the fire was burning toward timber in the Ahtanum State Forest, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bryan Flint said.

The fire, which was estimated at less than a square mile, was not threatening any structures.

Meanwhile, a wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes near Cle Elum was 90 percent contained Tuesday, despite windy conditions.

The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for extreme fire danger in Eastern Washington, and forecasters predicted thunderstorms with lightning for parts of the region. Lightning raises the potential of new fires igniting in areas that have experienced high temperatures with low humidity and little to no precipitation in recent weeks.

The fire east of Cle Elum, about 75 miles east of Seattle, didn’t see lightning, but crews dealt with rough terrain and wind gusts of up to 25 mph, fire spokesman Glenn Kohler said.

Crews had hoped to have the fire fully contained Tuesday, but full containment has probably been pushed to Friday, Kohler said.

The fire has burned across more than 36 square miles, about 23,450 acres, and caused an estimated $8.3 million in property damage. Authorities have confirmed 51 homes and 26 outbuildings were destroyed, and at least six other homes were damaged.

The fire started Aug. 13 near a bridge construction site, though the exact cause remained under investigation.