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Posted on Jul 23, 2015

I-90 wildfire contained on Wednesday

A wildfire south of George that fired back up on Monday and caused officials to close Interstate 90 for 20 hours was fully contained on Wednesday.
The I-90 fire started at about 2:15 p.m. on Sunday about seven miles south of George, near Silica Road and the interstate. On Sunday, a handful of campers and boaters in the area were evacuated, said Kyle Foreman, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
The cause of the fire is unknown; it is under investigation. That fire burned about 1,450 acres.
Then, on Monday, the fire flared back up at about 11 a.m., burning about 900 acres.
Flames on Monday were next to the freeway and eventually 30 mph easterly winds blew the fire across the freeway, forcing its closure between George and the Vantage Bridge. Foreman said the sheriff’s office, state troopers and fire units helped motorists get off the freeway, either by off-ramps or turning around in the median. Motorists were rerouted through Grant County on Adams Road and Highway 26. As firefighters got the fire under control, blowing dust then kept the freeway closed until about 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Power remained on during the fire, but Grant County PUD crews replaced 10 distribution poles on Tuesday afternoon, PUD spokesman Chuck Allen told the Wenatchee World.
At least three dozen homes were evacuated Monday afternoon, Foreman said. However, there were no reports of structures lost or injuries.
Firefighters worked especially hard to save one home on Frontage Road, near the interstate’s Exit 143. The property had three structures, including a house, that were in immediate danger, said Tony Leibelt, assistant fire chief with Grant County Fire District No. 3. An engine from Sunland Estates was on the scene early and five or six firefighters worked to save the home, Leibelt said.
The family living in the home was evacuated, he said.
Leibelt said at one crucial point, when he thought the property’s home would surely go up in flames, he nearly called for the crew to leave to get to safety.
“It was a battle,” he said. “It was a pretty good feeling to see (the house) was still there.”
A trailer load of hay parked along the road and near the home did burn, Leibelt said. There also was some crop damage in Monday’s fire; however, Leibelt did not know the extent of the damage.
State Fire Mobilization was authorized on Monday. It is the third time this summer a State Fire Mobilization team has been authorized in the Quincy-George area.
State resources were authorized on June 30 for the Monument Hill Fire and on July 4 for the Hills Fire.
Fortier expected the I-90 incident to be turned back over to the local jurisdiction on Wednesday.

— By Jill FitzSimmons,

The Wenatchee World contributed to this story.

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