SUMNER, Wash — Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide emergency due to the ongoing wildfires burning across the state. He plans to sign a proclamation so families who lost their homes to wildfires can get assistance.
The governor toured damage from the Sumner Grade Fire on Wednesday. He said the Bonney Lake fire, and others across the state, are some of the most "catastrophic" in state history.
"This is an extraordinary series of events we have suffered," Inslee sad.
The Sumner Grade Fire destroyed four homes in the Bonney Lake-Sumner area Tuesday night.
Evacuation orders remain in place overnight Wednesday for hundreds of residents who live near the fire, which is still burning on both sides of SR 410 near Bonney Lake.
Investigators said the fire has grown to 800 acres and is about 20% contained as of Wednesday evening. They believe the fire started late Monday after a power transmitter exploded during strong winds.
Wind gusts blew the fire closer to neighborhoods on Tuesday, forcing Level 3 evacuations.
Evacuee Rod Wilkinson watched helicopters from the Washington National Guard and the state’s Department of Natural Resources drop buckets of water on the ridge below his home Wednesday afternoon.
“Very hectic, very scary,” said Wilkinson, “Wondering what’s going to happen next.”
He spent Tuesday night sleeping in a lawn chair in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store.
It was the only way he could keep an eye on his hot rod sports cars he moved out of his garage.
On Wednesday, he got the cars into storage so he could focus on his home.
“We’re not out of this yet,” said Wilkinson.
East Pierce Fire Chief Bud Backer said the Sumner Grade Fire reminded him of destructive fires that are seen in central Washington.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, and I’ve been in fire service on this side of the mountains for 33 years almost,” Backer said.