A specialized Snag Canyon Fire crew, referred to as a hot-shot crew, reportedly detonated explosives Friday afternoon in the northeastern corner of the blaze. The reason for the specialized team members was due to the rugged, dangerous terrain in which the explosives were placed. More training, experience and stronger physical ability was required in order to complete this task; thus, it was assigned to them. The two hot-shot crews scouted the section all morning to located the best place to lay the detonation cord, and then went through a very meticulous and specific procedure to clear the area.
The Snag Canyon fire again increased in size, this time amounting to 8,800 acres. That’s up 400 acres since August 2, the first day of the fire. A confirmed report of 711 firefighters are on staff battling the unpredictable blaze. Cory Wall of the Washington Incident Management Team 1 reported that 19 structures, eight of which were homes, have been confirmed lost to the fire. Previously, he said the number of homes was at six, but that changed Thursday when two more were discovered destroyed. A dozen helicopters, including Blackhawks from the Washington National Guard, are on the scene and aiding with the efforts to bring the fire under control. Current containment of the Snag Canyon Fire is at 15 percent.
“We have done excellent work [holding the fire],” Wall said, describing how successful the team had been securing the western and southern flanks. He immediately added that all reports of the Snag Canyon Fire reaching Coleman Canyon were false, saying that they were holding the flames west of Schnebly Canyon.
Military trucks, complete with uniformed soldiers, began rolling into Ellensburg, Washington around 7 a.m. Friday, announcing additional reinforcements to the Snag Canyon Fire. The convoys continued to arrive throughout the day, and were stationed at one of the student-housing complexes across from Central Washington University’s campus. It has been reported that they will be stationed in the area for the next two or three weeks, and that they will be on 24-hour duty helping fire crews as much as possible.
In preparation for the blasts, a red flag warning was issued for the areas that would be affected. The actual denotations were said to have taken place between 1:30-3 p.m. Friday. According to Wall, the blasts had the potential of instantaneously creating a mile of holding line for the fire crew.
“But it’s not like the whole town will shake,” Wall said. The likelihood of anyone hearing the explosives detonating in the Snag Canyon Fire sounded pretty slim. People in the area would have to be aligned just right with the wind and other weather conditions in order to hear anything.
Another committee meeting is set for Saturday, August 9th at 7 p.m. in Central Washington University’s Student Union and Recreational Center in room 137 A and B. Further developments of the fire, including an overall progress report, will be addressed there. More information about the explosives that were detonated in the Snag Canyon Fire should be announced as well.
By Rachel Roddy