Manila Creek Fire Burning At Over 27 Square Miles

KELLER, WASH. — A fire that’s been burning near Keller, Washington since Monday gained steam later in the week, and new measurements Thursday put the size of the fire at over 17,500 acres.

That’s more than double what was estimated earlier Thursday.

Crews were able to get an accurate reading of the fire’s size with GPS measurements for the first time Thursday. Burning was actually stagnant in the evening, however the reported size jumped from 7,500 acres to 17,653.

On Thursday night, crews had achieved a 30 percent containment on the blaze.

The Manila Creek fire started shortly before noon on Monday, September 10th about six miles southeast of Keller, Washington on the Colville Indian Reservation.

The cause is listed as under investigation, although arson is suspected, according to a press release from Washington Incident Management Team 2.

While the fire has proven difficult to contain from the beginning, the flames spread rapidly Wednesday and Thursday, well over doubling in size in less than 24 hours.

Steep, rough terrain has made the battle difficult, as has limited access for firefighting apparatus. The fire is burning in scattered grass and heavy timber.

More than 200 firefighting personnel were on scene Thursday trying to keep the flames at bay.

The movement of the fire has caused a number of evacuations along the Columbia River and in the Swawilla Basin, as well as scattered structures along the southern border.

The Mt. Tolman complex has also been evacuated. According to the Grand Coulee Star, “The Mt. Tolman complex is the main wildfire fighting center on the Colville Indian Reservation, a 1.4 million-acre territory with approximately 800,000 acres of forest.”

In total, 12 homes were immediately threatened Thursday.

Additionally, heavy smoke settled over Highway 21 and the town of Keller, making travel difficult, and Peter Dan/Manila Creek Road is also still closed west of Highway 21.

The Star reported Thursday that, “contrary to some reports, no loss of electric service has occurred to Keller or Mt. Tolman.”

A community meeting has been scheduled on Saturday in Keller to discuss the fire and what’s in store.