One day after firefighters made headway on the wildfire burning near Cle Elum, there is serious potential for fire growth in the coming days.
Fire commander Rex Reed said the goal for Thursday is to get the Taylor Bridge fire 50 percent contained, but acknowledged it will be difficult.
"We've got some pretty active fire weather coming in here the next couple of days, so we have to get after it and get this thing wrapped up," Reed told firefighters at a briefing.
Here is where the fire currently stands:
--25 percent contained
--100 structures destroyed, including 60 homes (estimate, not an official count)
Temperatures are forecasted to soar into the 90s and 100s over the next few days, drying the already parched landscape and making it tougher on exhausted firefighters.
"Definitely fire activity is going to increase more," said Reed. "Even that much more tomorrow as we get a more unstable atmosphere."
Winds should remain between 10 and 20 mph. The weekend may bring an overnight rain shower, but the bigger threat comes from a chance of thunderstorms Saturday.
Hidden Valley and Lauderdale Junction are the latest areas to be evacuated. Mandatory evacuations are still in effect across the majority of the fire zone, including Bettas Valley and the Swauk Basin, where the fire burned strong all night.
Some families have fire lines on their property, but some have also refused to leave.
"It's about a half mile from my place right now, if the wind changes it will be there fast," said one man. "[We don't] want to be there, but [don't] want to leave everything we've got."
"I feel for you, I can tell you my staff does, we're going to do everything we can," Reed told homeowners at a community meeting Wednesday evening.
Wilson Creek, Alford Road, Look Road, Rustic Acres, and areas east of there have reopened.
Emergency shelters are at:
-- Cle Elum Centennial Senior Center, 719 E. Third Street, Cle Elum, (509) 963-1141
-- Central Washington University, Munson Dorms, Ellensburg, (509) 674-7530
--Animals evacuated to the Kittitas County Fairground
Firefighters were able to increase containment of the Taylor Bridge fire from 10 to 15 percent Wednesday, taking advantage of dying winds. But full containment requires about 40 miles of fire line, according to Reed, and could take another five to seven days.
Eight aircraft are expected to fly the fire again Thursday, dropping water and retardant.
State firefighting resources may begin to feel strained. A new wildfire that sparked Tuesday near Grand Coulee Dam has grown to 7,800 acres.
Both U.S. 97 and S.R. 10 run directly through the fire and remain closed.
Construction on Taylor Bridge near S.R. 10 is believed to have caused the fire on Monday.
Facebook page for evacuated and injured pets and animals