The Snag Canyon Fire has been an active topic of conversation since it started Saturday, Aug. 2. It is one of the many fires in Eastern Washington that has caught the eye of the public, sparking concern of safety with each passing day. Ellensburg’s wind and constantly changing weather conditions have caused the dedicated team fighting the blaze to take it day by day with their plans of attack, and strategies on how to eventually extinguish the fire. Last night, Aug. 9, a group of officials from the Snag Canyon Fire hosted a committee meeting in Central Washington University’s Student Union and Recreation Center to provide the public with an overall progress report.
Because it was Saturday evening, the team of officials kept their presentations concise, and the meeting to 30 minutes. An open question and answer segment, with the officials stationed around the room, to handle more specific concerns regarding the Snag Canyon Fire. All sizes and aspects of the blaze were covered, including reports about weather and air quality. Updates on evacuation notices were said to be lowering slowly as the fire was becoming more under control in some places, while others were being put on alert with the more unpredictable, unharnessed sections of the blaze.
Impending thunder and lightning storms later this week were one of the things mentioned that was an active concern for the team. The forecast of high, erratic winds was another. These winds could blow the fire in any direction, increasing its unpredictability. A smoke warning for the town of Ellensburg was also announced, admonishing residents in a decrease of air quality.
The wide-spread blaze in Central Washington, once again, has increased in size. As of Saturday’s progress report provided at the committee meetings, the officials said it had grown to 9,000 acres. With the help of the National Guard, personnel fighting the fire was also up in numbers. Now, 894 firefighters, soldiers and other officials have been assigned to the blaze. Containment has risen to 25 percent.
Friday afternoon, between 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., two hot shot crews detonated explosives to try and create more solid fire lines for the workers. In Saturday’s meeting, the two hot shot crews had become three, and the result was proclaimed a success. The hot shot crews had laid approximately 1600 fit of line with explosives, and more was reportedly going to be laid for additional blasting sessions. Strategic planning had future plans geared more toward the north of the end, as its said to be still free to move and carry the fire. There was no reports on when the next round of explosives were to be detonated.
About 40 members of the National Guard are providing active help, assisting the crews with any needing medical attention or standing at the blockades. In total, only three injuries have been reported due to the fire. All were stated as minor, treated immediately and released.
As a team, the officials who hosted the committee meeting, and provided another report of the Snag Canyon Fire, were optimistic about the progress being made on the blaze. They all expressed a heart-felt thanks to the patience, understanding and support of the Ellensburg community.
By Rachel Roddy