Firefighters Gaining Upper Hand On Kittitas Valley Wildfire

Aug 14, 2012

Firefighters called in from across Washington state are gaining the upper hand over a destructive wildfire in the Kittitas Valley. Crews with bulldozers are digging fire breaks, and helicopters continue to drop buckets of water on hotspots.

The fire has burned across ridges and canyons between the towns of Cle Elum and Ellensburg. The incident commander estimates 60 structures have been lost, including 40 homes.

Washington Department of Natural Resources firefighter John Piety says his crew managed to save some homes as a wall of flames approached Monday night. Piety told correspondent Tom Banse, some homeowners stayed to defend their properties despite evacuation orders.

“They did set their houses up with sprinklers and stuff," he said. "A few of them stayed. The majority left.”

Banse asked, “And your thought about those who stayed?”

“They should have left," Piety responded. "It’s just too big a risk to stay. For us, we feel a lot better if they’re not there putting themselves in harm’s way.”

Piety spoke at the end of an 18 or 20 hour shift on the fire lines. He was too tired to remember exactly how long.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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