Yakima Police SWAT officers started South Wenas Fire - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Police SWAT officers started South Wenas Fire

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1-11-18 UPDATE:

SELAH, WA - More than six months after the South Wenas Fire destroyed thousands of acres just north of Selah, we are finally learning what caused the fire.

The South Wenas Fire was one of the bigger fires we saw over the summer in the Yakima area. It torched nearly 3,000 acres and threatened homes. 

According to the Department of Natural Resources investigation, the day the fire started, two SWAT officers with the Yakima Police Department were shooting on private property for a qualification test. The report says bullets from the live fire exercise hit old farm equipment and ricocheted.

"One of these bullet projectiles, whether from a ricochet or a direct impact, severed a power line owned by Pacific Power."

The line then fell to the ground and immediately set a fire in dry grasses.

Both YPD officers were interviewed by DNR investigators and denied seeing the power line drop while they were shooting.

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6/28/17 5:00 PM UPDATE:

SELAH, WA - Firefighters continue to battle a fire that's burned more than 1,000 acres of brush near Selah. 

The fire started Tuesday, and the weather has only made things worse.

Reporter Gilbert Magallon learned that there are three helicopters and more than 100 firefighters are tending to the fire. The fire had made its way down north towards Selah, and then east towards South Wenas Road.

There are currently level 3 evacuations on South Wenas Rd. and level 2 evacuations near Collins Rd.

The fire is being fought at two points: Alpha and Zulu. A third group, Bravo, will fight at the ridge.

The fire started yesterday at about 11:00 a.m. and quickly became a three-alarm fire. Resources from all over our region and even the state are assisting.

Winds, low humidity, and lots of dry brush have only made fighting the fire more difficult.

No one has been injured and no homes or structures have been damaged.

Authorities say they are fighting the fire harder now, with 130 to 140 firefighters on the lines. They hope to have a better containment in the morning.

FEMA authorized the use of federal funds to assist in fighting the fire.

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6/28/17 7:30 AM UPDATE:

SELAH, WA - People living near Collins Road in Selah are coming back home after being evacuated Tuesday night.

Firefighters say they almost had the fire contained, but winds have caused it to grow. Right now it has burned at least 1,000 acres and is 0% contained. 

The fire started on the south side of Wenas road about a half mile west of Fletcher lane Tuesday morning.

According to Pacific Power at least 500 people are without power as of Wednesday morning.

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6/27/17 ORIGINAL STORY:

SELAH, WA - Dozens of firefighters are battling a large brush fire north of Selah in Wenas that has destroyed hundreds of acres.

Pacific Power believes about 270 customers are without power and unfortunately there is no estimate when the power will go back on.

The brush fire is burning on the south side of South Wenas Road about a half mile west of Fletcher Lane. It sparked at about 11:00 a.m. this morning and quickly grew into a three-alarm.

Firefighters from Selah, West and East Valley, the Yakima Training Center, Gleed, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Forest Service are on scene.

Central Washington Dispatch estimates that the fire has destroyed at least 400 acres. There is no word of any containment.

Dry grass and brush are fueling the fire, and winds are a concern for crews in the afternoon hours.

There are about three homes in the area where the fire is, although they were not too close to the fire lines when reporter Veronica Padilla was on scene, but she was told that crews had already done structural protection on them.

No word on the cause of the fire. Officials have not released that information at this point.

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