VANTAGE State fire assistance has been mobilized to help contain the Hult Butte Fire that blew up overnight Sunday.
The fire, located about four miles west of town, was burning in dry grass and sage brush.
Thick flames and smoke caused the closure of Interstate 90 between Kittitas and Vantage late Sunday night.
As a result, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste authorized the mobilization of state firefighting resources at 1:45 a.m. yesterday at the request of Kittitas County Fire District No. 4 Fire Chief William Rose.
According to fire officials, the blaze started about 9:45 p.m. Sunday; the cause remains under investigation.
By yesterday afternoon, it had grown to about 500 acres and was threatening several homes in the area.
The Hult Butte Fire is estimated at 500 acres and growing.
The fire is threatening homes, a cellular tower and infrastructure, fire officials said.
Flames and smoke also approached the interstate, prompting a temporary shutdown overnight. Traffic was flowing again yesterday.
Level 1 evacuation notices were issued for 32 homes.
Level 1 means fire is in the vicinity.
Mobilization specialists from the Fire Protection Bureau have ordered two wildland strike teams to the fire area.
The fire will be managed by a Type 4 Incident Management Team.
The State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray is activated to a Level 2 to coordinate state assistance for the Hult Butte Fire.
State Fire Marshal’s Office personnel were on scene yesterday to coordinate dispatch of resources.
The Hult Butte Fire isn’t the only one burning sage and dry grass in Eastern Washington.
Fire crews, however, think they have a handle on the 17,000-acre East Saddle Mountain Fire burning near Othello.
Fire camp has been set up at Othello High School for crews battling the blaze, which was hottest yesterday in the West Kuhn Road area.
Inciweb yesterday reported several other active fires in Eastern Washington, as well.
The largest fire in the state is the Diamond Creek Fire, which has destroyed 26,938 acres in the Pasayten Wilderness Area of Okanogan County north of Mazama.
The fire is the result of human activity, officials said.
Fire activity there has prompted the closure of several roads.
The fire that started July 23 grew by 1,788 acres since last Friday.
At 4,000 acres, the Noisy Creek Fire in Pend Oreille County is the second largest active fire in the state.
The fire was sparked by lightning on July 15 and continues to burn in the Metaline Falls area, close to Sullivan Lake.
Lighting also ignited the Bridge Creek Fire on the Colville Indian Reservation on Aug. 8.
As of yesterday, the blaze had grown to more than 1,000 acres, officials said.
Northwest Incident Management Team 6 took over management of the fire last Friday.
Due to rock cliffs in the fire area and subsequent concern for firefighter safety, much of the fire suppression activity has been indirect as firefighters drop back to defensible positions, officials said.
Meanwhile, smaller fires were also burning closer to home in the Naches Ranger District of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Ten fires were within the William O. Douglas and Norse Peak Wilderness areas, officials said. And two fires were contained near Rimrock Lake and one near Timber Wolf Mountain on Friday.
Most of the fires were less than an acre in size, with one estimated at 5 acres, and the largest at 15 acres, officials said.
The largest and most active fire, located along the North Fork of Union Creek, was burning within an area of dead standing trees and producing a clearly visible smoke column Saturday afternoon.
All of the fires are estimated to be a minimum of one mile from the exterior wilderness boundaries.
None of the fires presents an imminent threat to structures or resources outside wilderness, officials said.
It is likely smoke from some of these fires will be evident. Motorists traveling the section of state Highway 410 near the fires should be alert to reduced visibility.