Cle Elum wildfire burns 60 structures, threatens more
CLE ELUM, Wash. - A fast-moving wildfire has burned 60 homes and structures across 23 square miles of central Washington grassland, timber and sagebrush.
An incident commander with the Washington Department of Natural Resources estimates the blaze has burned at least 26,000 acres -- 41 square miles -- since it started Monday afternoon east of the town of Cle Elum.
Fire officials says more homes are under threat. So far, no injuries have been reported.
The fire has crept within six miles of Ellensburg, however, crews have stopped its forward movement, although it is not contained. State officials have dispatched additional firefighters and equipment to the blaze from around the state.
Meantime, seven chimpanzees at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest near Cle Elum are OK, but a spokeswoman says they seem bewildered by the smoke in the air and changes in their routine from a wildfire that burned within a couple hundred feet of their building.
Outreach director Diana Goodrich says humans were advised to evacuate as fire threatened the sanctuary Monday, but she and her husband J.B. Mulcahy, the director of operations, stayed overnight as firefighters protected the building.
The power went off, and they were unable to pump water from the well, so they had to deliver drinking water to the chimps by hand.
Goodrich says the fire burned a couple of trees within sight of the building and some of the grass in a 2-acre outdoor area.