GRANT COUNTY, Wash. — The Powerline Fire burning in the Saddle Mountains northwest of Mattawa, located in Grant County, Washington has grown to 7,800 acres and is 65 percent contained.
All evacuation notices in the Mattawa area have been canceled as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Grant County Sheriff's Office.
On Monday afternoon, firefighters said their biggest challenges are a manure pile and a compost pile from vineyards that are heated and have heavy potential for hotspots.
"It's a big compost pile. The fire yesterday threw embers on it. And now it's burning thoroughly. And it's really hard to get down inside there to put the fire out. We basically need heavy equipment, firefighting foam. And it's just going to take three or four days," said Jerry Lease with the Spokane Fire Department.
There are three camps of fire crews working the area from several departments, including Spokane, Walla Walla, Stevens County and Grant County.
Lease said they have been having difficulties with the terrain of the area.
The fire is burning on the side of a steep hill, making it difficult for crews to climb and work on that side. There are also rattlesnakes, according to Lease. This makes an already difficult area even harder to access.
The good news is that the area received about half an inch of rain Sunday night. Crews said that really helped their work and has allowed them to focus more on their firefighting efforts.
A spokesperson for the Grant County Sheriff's Office said a recreational motorcycle tipped over in the area and its hot muffler likely sparked the fire.
Authorities say the Powerline Fire was reported shortly after noon on Sunday. The cause is under investigation.
The Washington State Fire Marshal said the fire is threatening homes, crops, feedlot and infrastructure.
The area where the fire is burning is mostly rural and uninhabited, but those who live in the area should maintain situational awareness.
Wahluke High School is open for anyone in need of emergency shelter.
Authorities say they made progress in suppressing the fire on Sunday night.
As of Monday morning, the fire was moving west to east and crews have a line in the east to stop it. Irrigation and geography are preventing the fire from heading north or south.
The fire is fueled by sagebrush and grass, according to the sheriff's office. It is burning to the north.
The sheriff's office said Fire District 8 will use three aircraft to combat the fire, so residents should not fly drones.
Homeowner on edge
Jim Wise has been living in this home since 1987. From his backyard, flames could be seen on the hill.
He said he's seen fires before but this is the first time that it's come this close.
Wise said he was in the Tri-Cities visiting family when he heard of the fire and knew he had to come back to check on his home.
When he arrived back in town, he said he almost couldn't recognize the area.
"Within a few minutes it was really bad. It was scary, hard to see the house from about a quarter mile away. The smoke was really dark and heavy. The flames were getting in closer to the pine trees. So I was, for first time, really starting to worry that the house could burn," Wise said.
He said the home is the place he's lived for the longest at one time. The thought of losing it was something he had been preparing for, but would not be able to fully accept.
Wise said he's thankful his home is standing.
He said he's just excited to get his wife home so they begin to resume their everyday lives.
Fire comes nearly one month after 243 Fire in Grant County
The sheriff's office also said to be aware of aircraft pulling water out of the Columbia River.
This fire comes a little more than a month after the 243 Fire burned 20,380 acres nearly Royal City. The cause of that fire remains under investigation.
Homes, power poles and crops were threatened during that fire.
Two people suffered injuries as a result of the 243 Fire.