Firefighters stopped the advance of an estimated 5,000-acre fire that tore through south Kennewick neighborhoods, consuming five homes, before threatening Finley.
The Bofer Canyon fire is 85 percent contained in the county, with some smoldering areas still inside the city limits, officials said during a Sunday afternoon news conference. Firefighters continue to monitor the blaze to make sure it doesn’t spread.
Currently, there are no evacuations in effect.
The fire scene drew hundreds to the Canyon Lakes and Inspiration Estates neighborhoods Sunday, many stopping around the destroyed homes on Ely Street. Firefighters continued to douse the brush leading to a destroyed garage.
The traffic often created congested pockets at the end of roads.
“It is important that anyone who does not need to be in or around the wildfire areas to please stay away for the safety of the crews who are still working on containment,” said a city news release.
People living near the burned areas are being asked to keep an eye out for hot spots in their landscaping and other vegetation.
City officials encouraged residents to keep those areas well watered and remove any bushes and other vegetation growing next to their buildings to keep any flames from spreading because “this can often make a difference in saving a home.”
About 150 firefighters along with state airplanes battled the blaze to a standstill during the night.
“Although the fire is not 100 percent contained, things are looking better this morning,” the Benton County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook on Sunday morning.
The cost of the firefighting is expected to total about $175,000.
Benton County Fire District 1 and the sheriff’s office thanked the people who came out through the night and offered them snacks, water and power drinks as they battled the blaze..
“There has been a tremendous outpouring of support by the community,” said Kennewick officials. “The responding agencies would like the public to know that supplies are not currently needed and those wishing to assist should look to helping their neighbors at this time.”
City and county officials said the damage could have been much worse, and credited the cooperation between all of the agencies for getting ahead of the fire.
The fire started in the median of Interstate 82 about 2:45 p.m. Saturday, though the exact cause is still under investigation.
Strong winds gusting at times up to 20-25 mph turned it in a few minutes toward the south Kennewick neighborhoods of Canyon Lakes and Inspiration Estates.
Dozens of people, including several with medical conditions, evacuated the area with the help of police.
Flames consumed five homes, damaged three others, burned six sheds and killed two horses before firefighters were able to halt the advance at 42nd Avenue. Two people also were reported injured, one after inhaling too much smoke.
The fire then turned east forcing evacuations along the western edge of the unincorporated community of Finley.
The Washington State Patrol authorized the mobilization of state firefighting resources, and the firefighting is still under the coordination of a state mobilization incident management team.
On Saturday, flames threatened power poles, crops and homes in the Finley area before moving south, away from the more populated areas.
In all, the fire destroyed 25 Benton PUD poles, five transformers and shut off electricity to 361 customers until 8 p.m.
The Washington State Department of Transportation closed eight miles of Highway 397 starting at Interstate 82 while firefighters worked. They reopened the highway at 1:35 a.m.
Check back for updates.