Wildfire in central Washington forces evacuations

July 10, 2018

VANTAGE, Wash. (AP) — A wildfire burning near the Columbia River on Tuesday prompted officials to evacuate the tiny central Washington town of Vantage and to close Interstate 90 in both directions for a time.

The fire broke out late Monday and forced about 120 people to leave their homes in Vantage, which is located just west of the river.

The fire prompted the state Department of Transportation to close I-90, the main east-west route across the state, early Tuesday. The road was reopened at noon.

The brush fire had grown Tuesday in windy conditions and there was zero containment. One small structure had burned.

There were no reports of injuries. Cause of the fire was not known.

The Red Cross established a shelter for evacuees in the nearby town of George, Washington.

Jill Beedle, a spokeswoman for the Kittitas County Sheriff’s office said the fire burned on both sides of I-90, damaging guardrails and highway signs. She said winds reached 60 mph (96 kph) in the area.

Randy Shepard, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said a priority of firefighters was saving the town of Vantage.

Washington State Parks officials said the Wanapum Recreation Area and Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park in the Vantage area were closed.

Update hourly