Washington Wildfires Close Freeways, Threaten Homes

July 21, 2015 Updated: July 21, 2015

WALLA WALLA, Wash.—Several wildfires lit up Washington state on Tuesday, closing freeways, including a major east-west artery, destroying at least one home and threatening dozens of others.

Interstate 90 between Vantage and George remained closed Tuesday morning in both directions because of the brush fire, which sent heavy smoke across the freeway. The flames threatened 50 homes and led to a brief evacuation on Monday.

The Grant County sheriff’s office reported a trailer full of hay had burned on the road next to the interstate. The fire broke out Sunday night and reignited Monday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

In eastern Washington, a helicopter pilot fighting another wildfire walked away from a crash landing Monday. Heather Lee of Walla Walla County Emergency Management told the Union-Bulletin the helicopter had a mechanical failure.

Fire officials say the brush fire 9 miles east of Walla Walla near Blue Creek and Klicker Mountain has burned more than 2 square miles and destroyed at least one home since starting just after noon Monday.

About 50 homes in the area were briefly evacuated Monday afternoon. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Renae Crippen of the Blue Mountain Interagency Fire Center said no injuries have been reported, but more structures may be threatened.

Her center in eastern Washington is getting reports of new brush fires daily, Crippen said.

Another fire briefly closed U.S. Highway 2 in both directions near Monroe late Monday afternoon. Traffic was detoured around the fire while the roadway was blocked for about an hour, the Washington Department of Transportation said.

The brush fire is burning just west of State Route 9 and about 25 miles northeast of Seattle.