A Riverside Department firefighter looks toward the sky as a helicopter tries to help put out the fires in Grand Mound on Tuesday.

Thurston County: Smoke Will Linger; Don’t Call 911 Unless You See Flames

A homemade sign thanks firefighters for their efforts in battling the Scatter Creek Fire in Grand Mound and Rochester. This photo was shared by the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.
A homemade sign thanks firefighters for their efforts in battling the Scatter Creek Fire in Grand Mound and Rochester. This photo was shared by the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

Fire crews will likely continue to extinguish smoldering areas recently scorched by brush fires in Grand Mound through the beginning of next week, and smoke is expected to linger through mid-September, according to a news release from Thurston County. 

“For the rest of the summer, crews will be monitoring the fire areas for any possible lingering fire,” according to the news release. 

The Scatter Creek Fire was first reported at about 1:30 p.m. Aug. 22 and grew to nearly 500 acres by the time fire crews had it under control. 

About 345 acres burned in the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area. Unpredictable shifting winds drove the fire quickly, firefighters said last week. 

The fire burned two primary residences, two outbuildings, two front loaders, three semi trailers, one historical cabin and a historical barn, two personal vehicles, one excavator, two commercial vehicles, one commercial building, a tub grinder and numerous utility poles. 

As firefighters were wrapping up the Scatter Creek Fire, another South Thurston brush fire was reported at 4:47 p.m. Friday, this time on Prather Road at the intersection of Oregon Trail Road Southwest in Rochester. The fire was reportedly burning in grass, dry brush and timber. In addition to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority crews, firefighters from the state Department of Natural Resources responded with wildland firefighters and two helicopters. 

The Prather Fire burned less than 5 acres before it was contained at about 7:10 p.m. that night, according to the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. Several roads were closed during the fire but they were reopened Saturday night. 

The Northwest Incident Management Team 3, managing the Scatter Creek Fire since Wednesday, left the area Saturday and shifted command to the Department of Natural Resources for the remainder of the cleanup, according to Thurston County. 

The command post for the South Thurston fires has been relocated from Rochester High School to the West Thurston RFA station on Sargent Road. 

Inquiries about donations should be directed to the Thurston County Emergency Coordination Center at 360-867-2800.

On Saturday, the RFA and Thurston County cautioned area residents that both fires are continuing to create smoke in the area. 

“Please remember that because of the severity of the overall fire that occurred, people will continue to see and smell smoke away from the extinguished areas of the fire,” according to the Thurston County press release. 

Smoke from hotspots is likely to continue for the next few weeks. 

“The public is asked to call 9-1-1 only if flames are visible,” according to Thurston County. 

Drivers are asked to use extra caution in areas affected by the fire.