WENATCHEE — Authorities in central Washington ordered a new round of evacuations Wednesday near a surging wildfire, as firefighters worked to better control the blaze before thunderstorms swept through the region.
The fire danger was expected to remain high in Eastern Washington through Thursday amid the threat of lightning strikes from thunderstorms and gusty winds.
The Colockum Tarps Fire south of Wenatchee was burning across 93 square miles of grass, sagebrush and timber in Chelan and Kittitas counties, and winds from the east were pushing the blaze into timber to the west.
The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office ordered residents of about 75 homes and cabins to evacuate Wednesday, and several recreation areas were closed, fire officials said.
In addition, a horse and Bible camp with 40 horses and eight children was evacuated, the Ellensburg Daily Record reported.
The fire was about a half mile from the Wild Horse Wind Farm, which was closed to the public.
About 370 firefighters were working to control the blaze, which was 8 percent contained, fire officials said.
Near Goldendale, firefighters gained ground on a blaze that had closed U.S. Highway 97 for days.
The Mile Marker 28 Fire was 60 percent contained. The Washington Department of Transportation reopened the highway Wednesday, with pilot cars leading vehicles through the fire area. Delays of up to one hour were expected.
Fire crews built a fire line around the fire that burned about 35 square miles near Satus Pass, about 15 miles northeast of Goldendale, fire spokesman Dam Omdal said.
More than 1,300 firefighters were on the line mopping up hot spots and strengthening fire lines.