UPDATE: Our sister station in the Tri Cities area is reporting 64 structures have been destroyed in the Monastery Complex Fire that is burning near Satus Pass. It is still unclear if they were homes or outbuildings.
Up to 600 firefighters are battling the blaze. Six helicopters are now dropping water onto the fire. Crews spent much of Friday morning rescuing dozens of animals ranging from dogs to alpacas.
As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, lanes in both directions on Satus Pass, Highway 97 are closed due to smoke from the Monastery Complex Fire. The Department of Transportation may open and close the road throughout the day. Check this website: http://wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/satus/default.aspx before you drive over the pass.
So far about 5,300 acres have burned since Wednesday, but that's a rough estimate. Crews will use GPS to get a more accurate measurement today (Friday).
About 300 people have been evacuated and are staying at the Klickitat County fairgrounds, where the Red Cross has set up an evacuation center under the grandstands. There is a public meeting tonight at Goldendale High School at 7:00.
Chuck Turley of the Department of Natural Resources says firefighters had a good night Thursday. Winds were down and humidity was unexpectedly up which meant fire activity wasn't as high as it could have been.
SEATTLE, Wash. - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today authorized the use of federal funds to help Washington State fight the Monastery Complex Fire burning in Klickitat County. FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy said the state's request for federal fire management assistance was approved after it was confirmed that the fire had burned 18 structures and forced the evacuation of 225 primary residences and 75 secondary homes. The fire, which started 7 September, had consumed more than 2,000 acres at the time of the request.
"FEMA is committed to getting our nation's firefighters access to the resources they need to quickly extinguish fires that threaten lives and property," said Murphy. "This declaration is the first step towards enabling state and local governments to apply for financial help."
Murphy encouraged all Klickitat County residents to monitor conditions carefully and heed safety instructions issued by local officials.
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires.
Federal fire management assistance is provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. Eligible state firefighting costs covered by the aid must first meet a minimum threshold for costs before assistance is provided. Eligible costs covered by the aid can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.
GOLDENDALE, Wash. - The Monastery Complex Fire in Goldendale, Washington has grown considerably overnight. According to reporters from our sister station KNDU in the Tri-Cities area, the fire has grown rapidly to about 2,000 acres and has already claimed one home. The fire started around noon on Wednesday and has quickly spread through timber and brush. Level three evacuations have been issued to residents in the area.
We are working on gathering more information and will bring you updates as soon as they become available. Below is the latest information from KNDU:
KLICKITAT COUNTY, Wash. - Update: Firefighters say one home has burned in a wildfire near Satus Pass in Klickitat County. No one was inside the home at the time. Firefighters estimate the fire has burned nearly 2,000 acres but expect that number to grow. Right now 14 strike teams from across Washington State are making their way to the Monastery Fire to help. 160 households have been contacted and told to evacuate. Right now Highway 97 is open, but only to one way traffic led by a pilot car. Officials say to expect delays on Highway 97 to last until at least 1:00 pm Thursday.