Colockum wildfire 75% contained

KITTITAS -- It’s been nearly two weeks since one of the state’s largest wildfires erupted outside Wenatchee.

The Colockum Tarps fire is now 75% contained and evacuated homeowners have returned to their properties.

Luckily, only a handful of buildings were lost in the blaze.

Firefighters are still digging lines into the dirt, hoping to completely contain the fire in the next few days.

Helicopters are still dropping huge buckets of water on the fire lines in an effort to protect property and seal off what’s left of the fire.

“We identified 88 structures in these drainages around here,” said Doug Bleeker with Spokane County Fire District. “I don’t have enough trucks to defend every house that’s out there.”

As always, job one is keeping homes intact. But nearby sagebrush, trees and even patio furniture can make a difference in whether a home burns to the ground or survives.

Creating a buffer free of flammable materials around structures explains how dozens of local cabins survived this massive fire.

Last week Linda Anderson scrambled to protect her animals last week when sheriff’s deputies evacuated her neighborhood.

Today, she was finally able to go back home.

“Very, very tired today,” said Anderson. “We got everything unpacked.

She and her neighbors were grateful to get back to normal.

“I’ve seen the bravest people in the world come up to help save these homes and assure these families that they’re taking care of things,” said Janette Paulson.

Now fire officials are reminding homeowners how critical it is to create defensible space around their properties to reduce fire risk.

“It doesn’t mean you need to look like you built your house in the middle of a Walmart parking lot,” said Bleeker. “It does mean you need to take a look at those fuels an on a worst day, what’s it going to look like and what’s do you need to do to bust that fuel bed up so that it is going to survive on its own.”

The high humidity has really been helping crews stomp this thing out.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast for tonight and over the weekend – so firefighters are keeping an eye out for lightning, and hoping for the best.