Just east of the Snoqualmie Valley on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass lies Cle Elum. I often think of it as Snoqualmie/North Bend’s sister city on the other side of the Cascades, sitting relatively the same distance to Snoqualmie Pass, just in the eastern direction.
The Taylor Bridge Fire is ravaging the hills surrounding Cle Elum and many families have been displaced. Governor Gregoire declared a state of emergency yesterday in Kittitas and Yakima Counties.
The fire now covers over 40 square miles. It’s burned over 20,000 acres and destroyed 70 homes, with an additional 900 people evacuated. The fast-moving fire has done all this in just two days time and only about 10% of the fire is currently contained. Luckily, no injuries have been reported.
The Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce reports numerous donation drop-off sites have been established for fire victims and evacuees, including one here on the eastside at the Hilton Garden Inn in Issaquah, 1800 NW Gilman Blvd just off I-90 exit 15.
Needed items include non-perishable food, water, clothing, blankets, toiletries like soap and shampoo, infant items like diapers and formula. Cash donations are also welcomed.
Heat and winds are making the fire difficult to battle for firefighters. A 14-mile stretch of Highway 97, a heavily traveled road to the summer vacation towns of Leavenworth and Chelan, is closed because of the fire. Firefighters are attempting to keep the fire from spreading to the heavily-wooded areas to the north, which could turn the fire into a whole different beast. The publisher of our local paper, The Valley Record, has a firefighter son on the front lines.
You can also visit the Taylor Bridge Fire Help Facebook page for more information.