‘Kuper Fire’ Burns 33 Acres, Three Buildings in Grand Mound

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

Photo by Jared Wenzelburger / For The Chronicle
Photo by Jared Wenzelburger / For The Chronicle

The cause of a brush fire that burned about 33 acres and destroyed a garage and two outbuildings in Grand Mound Wednesday night is still under investigation, but firefighters say it was definitely human-caused.

“Our investigators are still out there working on it,” said Nick Cronquist, public information officer for the fire for the state Department of Natural Resources. “It obviously had to be human-caused because there were no natural causes in the area.”

This is the second brush fire this week that threatened homes in the Rochester area. A fire Monday evening along U.S. Highway 12 in Rochester threatened 12 homes and burned just over 3 acres. One structure, a pump house, was destroyed in that fire.

Wednesday’s fire was first reported around 4 p.m. in the Kuper Court residential area.

Late afternoon winds drove the fire to burn a total of just under 33 acres, according to the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

“The wind is what pushed that fire from a small start,” Cronquist said. “I think it was sustained winds of 10 mph and gusts even higher.”

Gusts reached 15 miles per hour, according to a release from the RFA.

As the fire spread, personnel evacuated an unknown number of residences in the area. A garage, two outbuildings and a car were destroyed, and several homes were damaged, according to the RFA.

Photo by Jared Wenzelburger / For The Chronicle
Photo by Jared Wenzelburger / For The Chronicle

Capt. Lanette Dyer, of the RFA, said she doesn’t believe the burned car was operational before the fire.

About 100 firefighters from agencies including the West Thurston RFA, Centralia’s Riverside Fire Authority, the McLane Black Lake Fire Department, Griffin Fire Department, South Thurston Fire, Lacey Fire District 3, the City of Olympia’s fire department, Grays Harbor Fire District 1, hand crews from Cedar Creek and the DNR responded.

The DNR provided four hand crews and helicopter support, totaling about 70 personnel.

One DNR firefighter, a 23-year-old woman, received an injury to her hand, according to the RFA.