In a sense, it’s a misnomer to call the Taylor Bridge fire a single fire –- it’s really dozens of individual blazes often separated by tens of miles.
This part of Kittitas County, halfway between Cle Elum and Ellensburg, is a kooky mix of criss-crossing, interconnected valleys that seemingly face every which way. Fire seems to have touched parts of them all.
Fire has burned through both banks of the Yakima River. There are north-facing, timbered slopes ablaze. There are south tilting, grassy pastures that have now smoldered for days.
And towering above everything are wind farm turbines that are gathering energy from gusts that come from every direction. That fact alone is almost enough to explain why this fire has been so tough to fight.
“Just look at the grass out here”, said Liam Shaw, a resident of Bettas road as he pointed to a knee-high field. “The wind moves so strangely around that sometimes it actually seems to make a circle.”
In fact, from a distance the grass really does look like a yellow and green river that somehow manages to flow a dozen ways at once.