Nine homes burn in fast-moving Goldendale wildfire

Nine homes burn in fast-moving Goldendale wildfire
Greek Orthodox sisters from Saint Johns Monastery help to fight the Monastery Fire that threatened their home Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Roger Mullis)

GOLENDALE, Wash. - A fast-moving wildfire in Goldendale, Wash. has burned nine homes and forced the evacuation of around 100 others, fire officials said.

The fire also disrupted traffic on U.S. Highway 97 between Goldendale and Toppenish.

Interagency management team spokesman Dale Warriner says there are no reports of injuries.

The fire has burned more than 5,000 acres and forced 300 people to leave their homes.

Bryan Flint with the state Department of Natural Resources said the fire, which is burning near Status Pass, is creating its own weather patterns.

"It's heating up the air as it moves and drying out the fuels, making them more susceptible to the fire as it approaches," he said.

The fire has been named the "Monastery Fire" because it started near the Saint Johns Monastery. On Wednesday, some of the Greek Orthodox sisters grabbed hoses to protect their buildings.

They said the fire came near a new dormitory, but so far the buildings have been spared. Fire officials have not said how the fire started, although witnesses told KATU that sparks from a broken truck muffler ignited several fires.

Jim Duck of the state Department of Natural Resources told the Yakima Herald-Republic that the fire is burning in a forested area near Brooks Memorial State Park, about 3 miles west of the Satus Pass summit.

The state took over management of the fire Thursday and ordered 65 engines and water tenders to the scene. Fire managers are operating from the county fairgrounds in Goldendale.

Possible lightning strikes from thunderstorms could spark new fires over the next several days.