GRAHAM, WA — 154th Avenue East at 240th Street East between Graham and Kapowsin is closed and residents are under an evacuation order on Tuesday morning. The area is still hot in many places.
The fire was started by a falling cottonwood tree on high voltage lines about 9:45 p.m. 9-7-2020. Resident Robert Johnson saw the tree fall and had his wife Kim call it in. High winds sent the fire southwest from that point. Rare, strong winds out of the NE fanned the flames. There are no fire hydrants in the area made fighting the fire more difficult.
Evacuated residents that have no friends or family to stay with were instructed to go to Frontier Park in Graham for assistance.
When I arrived around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 154th Avenue East was blocked at 240th Street. The County was circling the area in their Cessna based at Thun Field. Water trucks from several fire districts were coming and going. There was a command post set up with Emergency Management Vehicles at the intersection. A crude Road Closed sign was leaning on a Sheriff’s Department vehicle. Only firefighters were being allowed to enter. Residents were not being allowed back in once they drove out.
Thankfully, I had my press badge and cards and Graham Fire kindly let me report on my neighbors in Graham. Kyle and Sally were hosing a hot sport in the trees near there house using their garden hose and well water. Kim Johnson drove up and explained how the fire started the previous night. She had been the one to call it in when he husband Robert spotted the cottonwood tree fall on high voltage lines near their home.
As I left, Kim kindly gave me a ride out as she took important papers and family photos out to her mother on the other side of the road block. Kim went back to hook up their travel trailer since it is unknown how soon the area will be safe again. Their house is still standing, but many of their neighbors burned to the ground. Still on adrenaline, she is getting everything done to secure what is left before the sun starts setting and the winds kick up again. Then they will need to leave.
As I was leaving I could see in the distance, another tree flare up with black smoke.
Complete photos can be found on the Pierce Prairie Post Facebook page. Here are a few of the highlights.
UPDATE: 9-10-2020 from Pierce County
Pierce County fire marshal determines Graham fire accidental
The Pierce County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the 244th Command Fire in Graham was accidental when strong winds blew a tree down into power lines that caused very dry vegetation to catch fire.
The Sept. 7 fire led to a Level 3 evacuation of residents and the destruction of several buildings in the area. Graham Fire responded to the blaze and additional resources were called to the scene to provide support fighting the fire.
Crews were able to control the fire and by Wednesday, Sept. 9, Graham Fire & Rescue lifted the Level 3 evacuation notice and allowed people back to their properties.
Included is a link to a video of Graham Fire & Rescue explaining the cause of the fire.