Attacking from four sides, firefighters significantly slow the growth of the Colockum Fire


Though Level 3 evacuation notices remain in place for several areas, firefighters have been able to significantly slow the growth of the Colockum Fire near Malaga.

As of Sunday morning, there had been no confirmed structures losses and no injuries.

After growing to 1,759 acres by Saturday night, the fire did not see significant growth overnight into Sunday morning, said Ben Shearer, public information officer for the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team.

Photo of Colockum Fire by Baker River Hotshots.

More than 250 firefighters from numerous agencies are working four sides of the fire today.

“Normally by this time in an event we’re starting to cut some people loose and right-size the event and send some people back home or back to their agencies,” Shearer said. “We’ve made agreements to keep all of them another day just cause we don’t want another blowup like we had yesterday.”

Evacuation orders are likely to stay in place through Sunday and probably be lifted Monday, Shearer said.

Remaining at Level 3, (go now) are Colockum, Kingsbury and Jumpoff roads. Tarpiscan Road remains at Level 2 (be prepared).

By Saturday night, the fire was 25 percent contained. Shearer said he did not have new containment or acreage numbers Sunday morning, pending GPS work today.

The fire started about 2:14 Friday and quickly grew as strong winds pushed the fire in dry grass and brush.

Both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters have been attacking the fire from the air but it’s likely only helicopters will be used Sunday, Shearer said.

“We’ve got really good barriers. They dumped a lot of retardant yesterday. We got some really good lines built up with the retardant. ” Shearer said.

Wind blowing in different directions Saturday made the fire challenging, he said.

High winds are not in the forecast for Sunday, which should help firefighters.

Temperatures are expected to climb into at least the mid-90s, but that actually could be helpful to the firefighting effort.

“Nobody likes to work in the heat but in a way it is good for us because any of those hot spots that are still there will show up today,” Shearer said. “They’ll pop back up, which makes it easier for us to get in there and do the mop-up stuff.”

A statewide mobilization was ordered for the fire Friday.

Photo of Colockum Fire by Baker River Hotshots