Washington National Guard helicopter crews and several Pierce County fire units have been called up to fight the Wenatchee wildfire.
Two UH-60 Black Hawk crews were on standby Tuesday in Ellensburg to respond to the 4,000-acre Sleepy Hollow fire. The helicopters can be used to dump water on fires.
Another crew flying a UH-72 Lakota helicopter was expected to help the state Department of Natural Resources search for fires that might have been sparked by recent lightning strikes in the Cascade foothills, Washington Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren said.
Several Pierce County crews left Sunday evening and early Monday to help in the Wenatchee area.
Guy Allen, the Pierce County Fire Chiefs’ Association emergency management coordinator and the Key Peninsula fire chief, said the following units went to help over the mountains:• A water tender from Orting Valley Fire & Rescue.
• A brush engine from Gig Harbor Fire & Rescue.
• A structural engine from the Key Peninsula Fire Department.
“It’s tough to sit at home and see the middle of the state burning up and people losing their homes,” Allen said. “That’s why we do what we do.”
He expects the Pierce County crews to be back by the weekend, but said they’ll stay as long as they’re needed. The Key Peninsula Engine might return Wednesday, he said. The other two could be there another day or two.
The Wenatchee wildfire, fueled by high temperatures and strong winds, roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control.
Rainfall on Monday provided relief, but hot, dry conditions and wind could challenge crews trying to get a handle on the flames that have burned an estimated 4-plus square miles, officials said. Three firefighters have suffered minor injuries; no injuries to residents were reported.