Jolly Mountain firefighters: 'Protecting homes can become an obsession'

Washington National Guard soldiers arrived in Cle Elum Wednesday to provide support to 700 firefighters.

In the Morgan Creek neighborhood, about 10 miles north of Roslyn, firefighters work around the clock to protect 33 homes.

"You can see the fire is right in here," said firefighter Kale Casey as he walked through the neighborhood.

"It's trying to chunk its way down this road, and it's definitely right up there," he said pointing uphill into the brush.

Loading ...

Casey said the fire we were seeing was not backburn. This was the Jolly Mountain Fire, now more than 24,000 acres, creeping downhill near the homes. For these crews, protecting property can become obsessive.

"No homeowner wants a firefighter to die, but we want to do our job, which is to protect the house. It is a balance," said Casey.

The conditions have been a give and take. The visibility made assessing the size of the fire and water drops challenging. But the smoke inversion has fortunately kept the temperatures down.

More than half the trees are dead from beetle kill, turning them into easy fuel.

Hotshot crews work long 15-hour shifts, conducting backburns and digging fire lines around homes.