Brush fire in Grant County closes I-90, burns at least 800 acres

GEORGE, Wash. -- Crews were still working Monday night on a brush fire in Grant County that has already burned 800 acres and closed Interstate 90.

But the fire moved into an area where there’s not as much fuel. So homes are no longer being threatened, and all the mandatory evacuations have been lifted.

Monday afternoon, the winds picked up and clouds of smoke covered I-90.

“We err on the side of public safety first,” said Kyle Foreman, the public information officer for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. “If that means shutting down the highway to make sure the public is safe, as well as the firefighters who are working it, that’s what we’re going to do.”

It was frustrating for drivers who crossed the Columbia River, and found themselves stranded. They couldn’t see the fire, so they didn’t know why the highway was closed.

“I don't even know what this is,” said Tyler Kumma, who was trying to get to Idaho.  “I’ve had to gather information from other people pulled over.”

He was surprised to hear a fire could have this big of an impact.

“My family comes out here every summer for, we go to the lakes. We’ve never had this before.”

Officials say they don’t know if they’ve ever had a fire season like this before.

“It certainly feels way worse,” said Foreman. “This is the third large fire in Grant County in the past three weeks. Firefighters are very weary.”

Still they were able to save the one home directly in the fire’s path, and let residents in other areas of Grant County return to their homes.  But they say they can’t do anything to lessen the impact on travelers.

“It’s difficult when we have a fire, because a fire just pops up and then we have to make a moment’s decision. We don’t get the luxury of giving a couple days’ notice when it comes to a wildfire coming.”

Crews think they’ve got a handle on this fire, but they say it could be several more days before it’s completely out.