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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

August 14, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Taylor Bridge firefighters are “kind of on our own”

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark visited the Taylor Bridge Fire Tuesday and said Washington fire crews might have to face the blaze without regional support because of other fires in the west.

“We’re kind of on our own,” he said. “There’s nobody else to turn to.”

In the past, Goldmark said, fire crews from neighboring states have supported Washington in some of their worst fires. But nearby fires are making that impossible this time.

Goldmark called the Taylor Bridge Fire one of the most dangerous fires Washington has dealt with in some years because of the area’s low humidity, dry fuels and high winds.

He said he saw homes still burning while he took his tour.

“It’s an explosive, dangerous situation,” Goldmark said. “We’re doing our best to bring it under control.”

Goldmark visited the ignition point for the fire, but declined to confirm if the crews building a bridge nearby are at fault for the destructive blaze.

An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the fire that has so far blackened more acreage than all of Washington’s 2011 fire season.

The tactic firefighters are currently using to slow the blaze is to attack the flanks. Goldmark said this is a common practice because it avoids sending personnel directly in front of a blaze, which can be dangerous.

“We can’t get in front of a fire driven by 30 mph winds,” he said.

They are hopeful winds will die down tomorrow and give them a chance to make some progress, which they haven’t had much of so far, Goldmark said.

“It’s hard to say it’s going well when we’re losing structures,” he said. “It’s hard to say it’s going well when the fire acreage is growing.”

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: Cle Elum, Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark

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