Road closed: 1,000-acre wildfire closes I-90, city of Vantage evacuated

Firefighters from across the state are battling a 1,000-acre wildfire that has closed both directions of I-90 near Vantage, Washington.Both directions of I-90 are closed near Vantage, Washington due to a wildfire. The fire has closed roughly 22 miles of I-90 from milepost 115 east of Ellensburg, to milepost 137 just east of the Vantage Bridge.

Washington State Trooper Brian Moore says there are significant backups on both sides of the closure. Drivers are being asked not to park along the highway at the closure points. There is no estimated time when I-90 will reopen. WSDOT says drivers should use US 97 to SR 28 as an alternate route. Kittitas Valley Fire Rescue Chief Jon Sinclair says around 200 people from the town of Vantage have been evacuated. Level 3 evacuations were ordered around 2 a.m.

Tuesday morning. The wildfire, which has been named the Ryegrass Coulee Fire, started around 11 p.m. Monday night near milepost 133. Firefighters on scene tell KING 5 they battled 50 – 60 mph wind gusts all night and the fire has grown to over 1,000 acres.

The Grant County Sheriff tweeted that embers are blowing across the Columbia River into Grant County. Firefighters are monitoring and protecting the area where the embers are landing. Chief Sinclair says the fire is burning on both sides of I-90 and has made it to Huntzinger Road on the south side of I-90. A Level 3 evacuation advisory is in effect for residents within a mile south of I-90 on Huntzinger Road. Trooper Brian Moore said there are significant winds in the area and a lot of guardrail posts on I-90 are on fire. WSP is asking drivers to completely avoid the area.

WSDOT says to use US 97 to SR 28 as a detour. “With the winds, the smoke and the dust are creating some poor visibility at times,” Trooper Moore said. “There is no estimated time on opening I-90.” The Kittitas County Sheriff says Wanapum State Park is in a Level 2 advisory. People camping will need to take shelter because “Huntzinger Rd. is currently impassable.” Patrick Rogers said he and his family were camping in the Wanapum Recreation area when they were woken up Tuesday morning and told they needed to pack up and evacuate. The family just moved back to Washington from Hawaii and were on the last night of a two-week camping trip.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter for anyone displaced by the wildfire at George Community Hall, located at 403 W. Montmorency Blvd. One building has been lost due to the wildfire and other buildings and infrastructures are being threatened.

Several fire districts are currently fighting the wildfire including the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Chief Sinclair says a Type 3 Incident Management Team is on their way to Vantage. No injuries are reported at this time.

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