Dian Ver Valen
Wildfire wiped out the vegetation along Blue Creek but left this pocket of "defensible space" around a home in Walla Walla County (for more information on protecting your property from fire, visit www.firewise.org)
WALLA WALLA – Residents of the back country in Columbia County and elsewhere in the Touchet Valley watched the spread of the Blue Creek Fire east of here with unease over the last week. It has been several years since a fire of this magnitude threatened the valley.
At press time on Tuesday, the wildland fire on Blue Mountain Road and Klicker Mountain Road east of Walla Walla was 73-percent contained. At its largest, the fire was reported to have burned 6,225 acres.
Dian Ver Valen
Firefighters on the night shift make the long drive up Klicker Mountain on Saturday to continue battling the 6224-acre fire.
The blaze, which ignited on July 20, destroyed one home on Klicker Mountain Road and seven outbuildings, officials have stated. State mobilization of massive resources to the blaze kept it from climbing the ridge and dropping into the Mill Creek Watershed.
Over a thousand firefighters from all over the country, including the Touchet Valley, lent a hand in this fire, according to public information officers. Several fixed-wing air tankers and helicopters worked to dump water and fire retardant. One helicopter reportedly suffered a "hard landing" last week; the pilot walked away from the incident with minor injuries, but the aircraft was destroyed.
Even deputies with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office have aided with security and traffic control on the mountain; various evacuations and road closures have required the constant presence of law enforcement. The fire has reportedly been declared human caused but is still under investigation.