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Containment Of Taylor Bridge Wildfire Still Days Away

Liz Jones

Fire officials in central Washington are pushing back their timeline to fully contain the Taylor Bridge fire. KUOW's Liz Jones reports.


Friday was the day command staff had hoped to finally have the Taylor Bridge fire 100 percent contained. But now officials say early next week is more likely.

Mick Mueller is a spokesman with the fire command center in Cle Elum.

Mueller: "The gusty winds that we are experiencing makes it difficult day to day. And we have to have confidence that our line will hold. So, it's giving us fits. It's just going to take us time."

Mueller says they now have a containment line around more than 90 percent of the wildfire, but he says this last little gap is burning in very challenging terrain. He describes it as a steep, canyon–like area that's channeling winds.

Once the fire is contained, Mueller says crews will still have a lot of work back inside the fire line.

Mueller: "There are still snags that are still burning. There are stumps that are burning down into the ground. Root channels — they'll pop up and put up smokes every now and then when they get wind on them. And there are full islands — areas, acres — of unburned fuel that are still burning that we have to extinguish and then go to mop–up mode."

Mueller says another reason they backed off the containment date is because they're shifting management. They're moving from state–level management to more regional control.

Because the fire is mostly contained, he says they've also started to reduce staffing. They'll soon cut the firefighting crew by about half, down to some 500 people.

Fire officials have also lifted the last evacuation order. All the residents who fled the fire's path are now allowed to return home.

I'm Liz Jones, KUOW News.

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