A fire that scorched 500 to 600 acres pumped smoke into blue skies over the Tri-Cities on Sunday as temperatures climbed near the century mark.
Smoke from the Sunday afternoon fire near Benton City could be seen — and smelled — around much of the Mid-Columbia, but no one was injured and no buildings were damaged.
Firefighters responded to the fire along Badger Road, west of Dallas Road, about 1:20 p.m. Sunday, said Benton Fire District 1 Capt. Devin Helland. It took between three and four hours to get it under control.
Firefighters had to work to protect railroad tracks and orchards, Helland said. Rail traffic was stopped through Badger Canyon for a while, and Badger Road was shut down to allow emergency vehicles to move around more easily.
Numerous firefighters assisted from Benton fire districts 2 and 4, as well as Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, Hanford and Franklin Fire District 3, Helland said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Helland said, but dry conditions allowed it to spread more easily.
“Be careful,” he said. “It’s dry out there.”
Barbara Minton, who lives on Badger Road, said her husband was next door to their farm and saw people riding dirt bikes. He then saw what he thought was a dust cloud.
“By the time he got back to the house, it was pretty clear it was fire,” she said.
The Mintons and their horses were able to stay a safe distance from the fire. She said it never got closer than a quarter mile from their home.
Fires have been a regular occurrence in the Badger Canyon area. A fire in February 2014 burned about a quarter acre after wind caused a homeowner to lose control of a small fire.
Some residents were evacuated in June 2013 after a fire started in the Tripple Vista area near Badger Canyon, according to Herald archives.
The Eagle Butte Fire burned 20 acres in Badger Canyon in May 2012.
A half-dozen power poles and a well pump house were burned in a July 2010 fire between Badger Canyon and Dallas roads.
An August 2008 fire in Badger Canyon burned around 200 acres and came within a few hundred feet of some homes.
An August 1994 fire burned about 2,000 acres of hilly sagebrush between the Kennewick Irrigation District’s main canal and Clodfelter Road.
“I don’t think it takes much this time of year (to start a fire),” Minton said. “Of course, the winds make it worse.”