Firefighters are battling several fires in the Umatilla National Forest after passing thunderstorms kindled the dry landscape on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.
The largest is in Asotin County, which had burned close to 28,000 acres by noon Thursday, July 8, according to Blue Mountain Fire Information online, which is updated regularly by various forest officials.
Among the lightning-started blazes is the Green Ridge Fire, about 30 miles east of Walla Walla. This fire was reported at 9:51 a.m. July 7. and is burning in steep terrain, primarily consisting of grass and shrubs, officials reported.
Late afternoon winds and hot temperatures caused the fire to spread rapidly, and several structures are at risk.
The fire was estimated to be 25 acres at noon Thursday. Fire behavior is active, including upslope runs and torching.
On Thursday, firefighters planned to build line construction, where terrain and fuels allow for crews to safely engage, with support from two heavy air tankers.
Current resources on scene include a handcrew with an Interagency Hotshot Crew arriving Thursday. Additional resources are on order.
The Forest Service has ordered the local Blue Mountain Type 3 Incident Management Team to manage this fire and will brief the team Thursday night with plans for the team to take command of the fire tomorrow morning.
The latest information provided on the Dry Gulch and Silcott fires, formerly called the Asotin Complex Fire, indicates 27,929 acres have burned in rural Asotin County.
A spokeswoman from the Southeast Washington Incident Management Team said six outbuildings have been destroyed and 450 structures are threatened. No permanent residences had been lost, as of 1 p.m. Thursday.
About 200 firefighters from across the state are battling the two fires and camping near Asotin High School. Large plumes of smoke are caused by unburned fuel within the fires’ borders, officials said.
Peola Road and McGuire Gulch are closed to motorists. The Silcott Fire, burning west of Clarkston, is currently at 10 percent contained, and the Dry Gulch Fire, west of Asotin Creek Road, remains at zero percent containment.
Four strike teams and an additional five engines are on the scene, along with hand crews, heavy equipment, an airborne attack and three helicopters.
The Lick Creek Fire burning southwest of Pomeroy is joining the Dry Gulch Fire, the spokeswoman said.
The incident team is working in cooperation with Asotin County Fire District 1, the Washington State Patrol’s fire marshal, the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Forest Service to manage the response to the Silcott and Dry Gulch fires.