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60 fight to contain Richland brush fire (w/ gallery)

RICHLAND -- An aggressive brush fire helped by wind sent heavy smoke billowing over the Yakima River and caused some Richland homeowners to worry about the fast-moving flames.

No homes were threatened and no evacuations were needed as about 60 firefighters worked to contain the blaze on both sides of the river near Duportail Street.

The fire, which burned about 10 acres, started around 3:45 p.m. behind an apartment complex at 2550 Duportail Street.

Richland fire crews, who were busy dealing with a natural gas line break on Abert Avenue, got help from Kennewick firefighters, who initially took command of the fire scene, officials said.

The fire moved fast in the vegetation, and wind helped it jump across the Yakima River around 4:25 p.m., sparking another blaze near the Hills Mobile Home Park on Skyline Drive.

Officials elevated the incident to a third alarm, which brought out additional crews.

"It was a pretty aggressive little fire," said Richland Fire Chief Grant Baynes.

Homeowners in the Hills community, concerned that the fire would move up toward them, grabbed their garden hoses to try keep the brush on the hill wet.

Firefighters were able to keep the flames from jumping the irrigation ditch that runs along the Yakima River and helped keep the fire from getting close to the homes.

Officials asked people to avoid Duportail Street off of Highway 240 and Queensgate Boulevard while crews worked to get the fire under control.

The blaze was contained around 7:15 p.m., but a couple of units were in the area overnight to watch for any flare-ups.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

* Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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