Eureka fire may be under control today

The fire had consumed 20,000 acres of wheat stubble, grasses and sagebrush.


EUREKA, Wash. - A 20,000-acre fire that started Friday afternoon was expected to be 100 percent contained this morning.

As of Saturday evening, the Eureka fire was 50 percent contained, as it burned a mixture of wheat stubble, grasses and sagebrush between Lyons Ferry Road and the Snake River.

About 200 firefighters from across the state, 40 engines and a helicopter were called in to help contain the fire that, so far, has only burned one structure.

Walla Walla County Emergency Management Director Gay Ernst said that structure was most likely an abandoned barn, and that several other homes and outbuildings were successfully kept from burning by firefighters.

No injuries were reported, she added.

On Friday night, the fire had been contained to only a few thousand acres and was expected to not spread much further.

Local wheat farmer Steve Hair said he went out to inspect the damage that night.

"We went out last (Friday) night because we heard the fire was taking off a little more. But by the time the fire went out by Wooden Road, it appeared to be under control," Hair said.

But on Saturday morning, dry conditions and strong winds brought the fire out of control again, Ernst said, adding that firefighters were hampered by steep terrains with no access.

"It's just super steep ravines. It's tough country. I can't imagine anyone farming out there but we do ... It was making me so nervous. So I came back into town," Hair said.

The fire has moved steadily toward the Snake River and parts of it are said to be within a half mile of the banks.

Prescott School was turned into the command center for the 200 firefighters.

No cause was available, but Ernst said no lightning strikes had been reported on Friday afternoon.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at or 526-8325.


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