Sept. 10: This story was updated today.
Residents in north Clark County remain on alert today, awaiting news on any updates to evacuation notices issued Wednesday night, due to the Big Hollow wildfire burning east near Yale Reservoir.
As of this morning, the fire had not entered Clark County, and there were no mandatory evacuations in place, according to Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency.
Estimates for the size of the fire have varied greatly since Wednesday night, and it continues to grow in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. However, both the U.S. Forest Service and Washington Department of Natural Resources now estimate the fire has burned about 12,000 acres.
Video from a KPTV News helicopter shows the fire burning on a ridge in the forest. Flames are seen crowning in the tops of trees in the heavily timbered area, with a large plume of smoke.
The Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday issued a Level 1 “Get Ready” evacuation notice for the north Yacolt and Amboy areas and a Level 2 “Get Set” notice for Chelatchie.
CRESA issued a public alert about the evacuation notices Wednesday night. The agency said there is no immediate threat to those areas. However, fire officials want residents to be aware of the situation in case conditions change. A map of the affected areas can be found at https://bit.ly/35nOnME.
Battle Ground Public Schools closed Yacolt Primary School and Amboy Middle School today and canceled remote learning because of the evacuation notices. The Woodland School District also closed Yale Elementary School due to the Level 2 evacuation notice in that area and heavy smoke.
A Level 1 evacuation notice means residents should be aware of the potential danger and should “get ready” in the event of a mandatory evacuation.
“Residents with special needs, or those with pets or livestock, should take note and prepare for relocating family members, pets and livestock. Refine your evacuation plans and gather the things you will need if you must evacuate,” CRESA explained in social media posts.
A Level 2 evacuation notice indicates a significant risk in the area.
“Now is the time to be set for immediate evacuation. Residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or designated area or with family/friends outside the area or be ready to leave at a moment’s notice,” according to the agency.
A Level 3 “Go Now” notice means there’s immediate danger and residents need to evacuate.
CRESA has designated Lewisville Intermediate Campus, 406 N.W. Fifth Ave., in Battle Ground, as the meeting point for anyone who needs to evacuate.
The Big Hollow fire was discovered Tuesday burning east and north of the Trapper Creek Wilderness on the Mt. Adams Ranger District. Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service had estimated the size of the fire to be 6,000 acres but later updated that number to about 22,000 acres. It has since revised that number again to 12,050 acres, in line with what the Department of Natural Resources has estimated.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has temporarily closed some areas to the public, including developed campgrounds, dispersed camping, day use and wilderness areas, and most forest roads and trails in the southwestern portion of the forest. People in the process of evacuating from the area are exempt from the order, the U.S. Forest Service said in a news release Wednesday night.
“At this time, the Big Hollow Fire is presenting an extremely dangerous situation, and we must close the forest to protect the life and safety of the firefighters and the public,” Forest Supervisor Eric Veach said in the news release. “Even if your destination is outside the closure area, please consider waiting to visit the Gifford Pinchot or other national forests until the fire situation in the Northwest has stabilized somewhat.”
A forest-wide ban on all campfires also went into effect Wednesday.
“The campfire ban will help prevent new fires from starting and straining our resources and public safety further,” the U.S. Forest Service said.
Additional resources on wildfires can be found at: http://cresa911.org/wildfires-2020/. Updates can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/giffordpinchot/alerts-notices or call 360-524-1724.