Fires destroy business, shutter highway

Pallets burn behind Contreras; aircraft attack wildfire

Flames leap from stacks of pallets that caught fire Saturday at Contreras Auto Repair, 405 Scoon Road.

Photo by Jennie McGhan
Flames leap from stacks of pallets that caught fire Saturday at Contreras Auto Repair, 405 Scoon Road.



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A bomber releases fire retardant low over the ground north of state Highway 24 yesterday in an effort to slow a fast-moving wildfire.

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A wildfire crew sprays water on flames encroaching on state Highway 24 yesterday afternoon while the road was closed to traffic.

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The city’s ladder truck sprays water on the fire along Scoon Road late Saturday evening.

— Two unrelated fires hit the area over the weekend, with one nearly damaging a business in the city and the other prompting the closure of Hanford Highway.

The two blazes were among several burning around Eastern Washington this past weekend as rural communities gear up to celebrate all things American on Independence Day.

In Sunnyside, fire erupted Saturday evening in pallets stacked in a lot behind Contreras Auto Repair, 405 Scoon Road.

Flames billowed high into the air as stacked pallets were engulfed by the blaze.

The fire behind the former Central Machinery location drew many gawkers, who parked in a lot across Outlook Road to watch the action.

Fire officials have yet to say what caused the blaze or to estimate the damage value.

The second local fire broke out Sunday morning near the Silver Dollar Cafe on state Highway 24.

The fire raced through dry sage and grass along the highway toward Hanford, reaching well past the Cold Creek Road area before being slowed by ground and aerial firefighting crews

At one point, five smaller aircraft and two large bombers were working the fire.

The smaller craft dropped water while the larger bombers unloaded retardant on the flames.

Near Cold Creek, the fire enveloped a power substation.

State Department of Transportation crews shut down Highway 24 at the intersections of state Highway 241 north of Sunnyside and 240 at Hanford while aircraft dropped water alongside the roadway.

Several wildfire teams were called in to assist federal Bureau of Land Management and other fire crews battling the blaze.

Information on what started the fire was not immediately available and officials didn’t have a size estimate at press time.

Those weren’t the only two new fires burning in Yakima County this weekend.

Late last night, all available fire units were dispatched to Wapato for another wildfire.

Crews were dispatched to the blaze on Home Acres Road for structure protection. But details of the fire were not available last night.

And earlier yesterday in Yakima County, state fire officials mobilized crews yesterday for the Milepost 188 Fire near Naches on U.S. Highway 12.

“The fire is burning in grass, brush and standing timber,” an advisory issued by the Washington State Patrol said, noting Yakima County Fire District No. 3 Chief Alan Baird requested state mobilization to assist with the blaze.

As of mid-day yesterday, the fire was an estimated 500 acres and growing; with Level I evacuation notices issued for more than 100 residents in the Craig Road area.

Because of the fire, state transportation officials are advising motorists traveling to Western Washington to avoid U.S. Highway 12 and White Pass. Alternative routes include Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, state Highway 14 through the Columbia River Gorge and U.S. Highway 2 over Stevens Pass.



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