Bateman Island will be closed to the public indefinitely as the fire that started Sunday night continues to smolder.
Smoke hung over the 160-acre natural area Monday as crews worked to extinguish the last of the blaze.
The city of Richland leases the island from the Army Corps of Engineers. It is heavily used by walkers, hikers, birdwatchers and others.
City spokeswoman Hollie Logan said the fire was mostly contained Monday afternoon.
There were several fire lines that are not contained, and crews from the Richland Fire Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remained on the scene.
The fire started at 6 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters from Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, Hanford, and Benton and Franklin counties worked through the night.
At this time the safety of our community is our utmost priority.
Tom Huntington, Richland Fire and Emergency Services chief
Richland officials are asking people to avoid the island because the fire may continue to smolder for several weeks in the dry, heavy underbrush. There are also several burned-out trees, which could collapse.
“We understand Bateman Island is a popular destination and valuable resource for our citizens,” said Richland Fire and Emergency Services Chief Tom Huntington.
“However, at this time the safety of our community is our utmost priority. This closure is in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers.”
Smoke was visible across the region. Some of the more dramatic flames were fed by Russian Olives. When the fire reaches the trees, they burn quickly, Huntington said.
Part of the mop-up work Monday included cutting down the remains of the fire-weakened trees.
Officials reported the fire fed on heavy brush on the island. With no lightning reported, Huntington said the fire was likely started by people, but an exact cause hasn’t been determined.
The island was evacuated shortly after the fire started. Smoke led officials to close Columbia Park Trail between Columbia Center Boulevard and Florida Avenue Southeast through the night.
Members of the public brought police, firefighters and other emergency workers water as they worked, Richland police said.
The fire appears to have burned roughly two-thirds of the land on the island. No injuries were reported.
Firefighters used drones to track where it was safe to send crews.
A set of similar fires in August 2001 burned 80 percent of the vegetation and about 90 acres.
The fires left the island closed to visitors for nearly two years as volunteers cleaned the island and vegetation returned.