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    Posted August 14, 2012 by
    Ellensburg, Washington
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Wildfires blazing near you

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    Taylor Bridge Fire - Washington State


         The Taylor Bridge wildfire burning in central Washington has consumed more than 26,000 acres and destroyed 60 plus structures as it surges uncontrolled in Kittitas County. Evacuations continue as the fire spreads further east. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized  funding to support the fire fighting effort and it is expected that Gov. Chris Gregoire will authorize the use of the National Guard to assist fire teams in their attempts to control the flames. Once the National Guard is authorized, heavy aircraft may be deployed in the suppression effort. A spokesman for the County stated that while the investigation is still ongoing, it is believed that the fire was started at a construction site related to a bridge replacement near Cle Elum.


         In the national news cycle, the story of rural Washington just can’t be captured the way it can by local news. Ellensburg’s Daily Record gives a snapshot of how danger to a community unites neighbors and demonstrates the devotion to their own. Due to the fire’s rapid pace, some residents had to simply free livestock  to escape on their own before moving on to safety themselves.The local paper’s reporters cite volunteers driving county roads with trailers rescuing animals that escaped the danger zones and evacuating them to emergency shelters, local businesses donating supplies for their care, and neighbors and passersby bringing down fences or opening gates to let livestock escape the path of the flames. The county’s Facebook page abounds with offers to assist in child care and temporary housing for families and livestock. While the men on the fire line fight to halt the flames, the communities tend to those displaced.


         Evacuation shelters have been set up at Central Washington University in the Munson dorms (Ellensburg) and at Centennial Center 719 East Third Street in Cle Elum. Emergency animal shelter has been established at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds. Resources from throughout the State have been pulled to combat the fire. Presently, no injuries have been reported.

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