Crews Watching Out for Lightning at Cow Canyon, Vantage Highway Fires


Firefighters working at the Cow Canyon and Vantage Highway fires were keeping a wary eye on the weather Tuesday.

With a heat advisory continuing through 11 p.m. Tuesday and thunderstorms forecast for the evening, crews are preparing to respond if new fires are sparked by lightning strikes in the area, according to reports from the incident management team overseeing both fires.

The crews working the fires are also watching to see if wind from the passing storms will restart smoldering brush and fan the existing fires, according to the reports.

Cow Canyon Fire, which started Aug. 3, remains at 5,832 acres —slightly larger than Terrace Heights — but firefighters increased containment from 30% to 40% Monday, the report said.

Fire crews spent Monday mopping up hot spots inside fire lines, particularly around islands of unburned vegetation formed by fire retardant drops. Crews were planning to continue that work Tuesday, along with repairing bulldozer lines and removing trees that were weakened by the fire.

As of Tuesday morning, 388 personnel were assigned to the fire, with 14 hand crews, 14 engines, five bulldozers, eight water tenders and a helicopter.

Level 1 evacuation orders, requiring people to be aware that they might need to evacuate, remain in place. North Wenas Road is closed at Maloy Road, along with Maloy and Audubon roads, with only residents in those areas allowed to go in, according to the report.

In Kittitas County, Manastash Road is closed at Cove Road, and Umptanum Road is closed at Shushuskin Road.

The Wenas Wildlife Area, Umptanum Falls and Manastash Trail are also closed, the report said.

The fire is anticipated to be fully contained by Aug. 15.

Vantage Highway Fire

Firefighters were able to get the Vantage Highway Fire 90% contained Monday, with full containment of the 30,659-acre fire anticipated on Thursday.

The fire, which was first reported Aug. 1, has burned an area larger than 1.5 times the size of Yakima.

A strike team of engines is patrolling the fire area looking for new fire starts while crews begin repairing the damage caused by firefighting efforts, such as adding water bars to roads and restoring natural drainage to the area, the report said.

As of Tuesday morning, 155 personnel, including two hand crews, five engines and a bulldozer, are assigned to the fire.

The Quilomene and Whiskey Dick units within the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area remain closed due to the fire.