Fire in Grant County grows to 15,000 acres but crews have it 25 percent contained


Lighter winds and a beefed up firefighting force are helping efforts to halt the growth of what is now being called the 243 Command Fire.

Despite the better conditions, the fire grew overnight from 5,000 to 15,000 acres of grass and brush land.

But the state and Grant County crews battling the blaze had it about 25 percent contained by this morning.

Residents of the small town of Smyrma remain at Level 3 evacuation, meaning they were told to get out.

To aid that, an evacuation shelter has been set up at Royal City Intermediate School and large animals are being housed at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Moses Lake.

Currently, there are 380 personnel working the fire, with four aircraft attacking the fire from above.

The fire started Monday night near Wanapum Dam and spread quickly, thanks to strong winds Tuesday.

In a briefing this morning, incident commander Tony Gilmer said fighting the fire is challenging because of the natural and commercial resources at risk.

That includes private property and land important to migrating Monarch butterflies.

Crews are doing their best to minimize further damage as they fight the fire, he said.

A firefighter and public information officer have suffered minor injuries, the incident team reported.