Highway 395 was closed for part of Tuesday afternoon while firefighters from seven departments worked to get a wildfire under control about five miles north of Pasco.
The fire was reported at 12:31 p.m. near the intersection with Selph Landing Road, across from the Country Mercantile. It’s not clear what sparked the blaze that burned for about three hours.
Gusty winds pushed the flames north along the highway after it started on the west side, then jumped the road at one point, said Franklin Fire District 3 Chief Mike Harris.
About 30 firefighters from Franklin fire districts 3 and 5, Pasco, Kennewick, Benton Fire District 1, Walla Walla Fire District 5 and state Fish & Wildlife responded to the fire. Harris estimated it burned about 80 acres of sagebrush and grass.
No one was hurt and no buildings were damaged, but the posts on some state Department of Transportation signs burned, Harris said.
Firefighters plan to monitor the area for a couple days to make sure it doesn’t rekindle, Harris said.
The first week of June usually marks the start of wildfire season, but firefighters already have battled some wildland fires, Harris said. The area now has a “moderate” fire danger, but Harris said it can quickly reach “very high.”
“It could be a long season,” he said. “Everybody needs to start being careful out there.”
In Benton County on Monday evening, burning pieces of a tire likely caused a series of fires along Highway 224 near Red Mountain.
Firefighters from Richland and Benton fire districts 1, 2 and 4, along with state fish and wildlife officials, put out five hot spots ignited in the dry grasses along the roadway.
Fire officials also are urging residents to reduce their fire risks by cutting vegetation back from their homes to slow a fire’s progress.
This week, the Bureau of Land Management banned the use of fireworks and exploding targets on BLM-managed land in Oregon and Washington through Oct. 15. BLM land includes Juniper Dunes.