Major wildfire forces evacuations in Grant County

GRANT COUNTY, Wash. -- A major wildfire in Grant County is forcing people out of their homes.

Fire officials say it was burning about 300 acres Monday night. By noon Tuesday, that number had grown to roughly 5,000 acres, threatening 25 homes.

As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday (June 4), there were level three evacuations under way near SR-26 and SR-243, in Wanapum Village along Beverly Burke Road. Level three evacuations mean people are in immediate danger.

Other parts of Grant County are under level two evacuations, which means people should get ready in case they are ordered to evacuate.

According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts of nearly 20 mph are feeding the fire, as are the dry sage brush and grass in the area. Some areas are without power right now because of it.

Firefighters say there have been some very close calls so far. They were able to save one home, even as flames burned the backyard.

The state Fire Marshal has approved state mobilization, which means more resources, including strike teams, are being sent in to fight the flames.

The Grant County Fairgrounds have been made available for sheltering large animals

This is the first major wildfire of a fire season that's expected to be a busy one.

Grant County is just one of many areas across the state experiencing drought conditions. Last month, Gov. Jay Inslee expanded a drought declaration to nearly half the state. With less precipitation than normal, conditions are already abnormally dry.

There's no word yet on what started the fire.