Lightning-sparked Mid-Columbia fires nearly contained

A 48,700-acre fire burning in western Benton and Yakima counties was 80 percent contained Sunday evening as more than 200 firefighters continued to work on extinguishing the blaze.

The Dry Creek Complex Fire started Thursday night as a result of lightning strikes. Two fires burned together Friday night to create the complex fire after winds blew at upwards of 40 mph.

Highways 24 and 241 are open again, though drivers should look out for slowdowns on 241 because of a bridge that burned and was temporarily repaired.

Crews were focused on checking the perimeter to ensure no active smoke was left, said Dale Warriner, information officer for the incident management team.

He said the cost of fighting the fire so far was about $850,000.

The fire was burning mostly sage brush and grass on federal and private lands, though the Silver Dollar Cafe, near the intersection of highways 24 and 241 in Yakima County, and a manufactured home were destroyed by flames, according to emergency officials.

Command of the Dry Creek Complex Fire shifted Saturday evening to a state Type II incident management team that established its command post and fire camp for firefighters at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory complex in Richland.

About 400 firefighters and support staff were positioned at the camp Sunday afternoon, said Geoff Harvey, PNNL spokesman.

He expected the crew to be on the campus for a couple more days.

Fire crews will continue to work around the clock to contain the fire, which could happen as soon as tonight, officials said.

Weather is expected to remain mostly favorable, although a series of small fronts could bring some wind, Warriner said.