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Bateman Island fire expected to burn through the night

According to the Richland Fire Department, the fire has burned at least a couple of acres and is expected to burn through the night.

[UPDATE: 4 p.m., Monday]

City of Richland officials are advising people to avoid the Bateman Island area indefinitely as of 2:30 p.m., Monday as the fire has caused significant tree damage.

Richland Fire Chief Tom Huntington says the fire burned about 70 acres. Fire officials reported the fire was 100 percent controlled and 60 percent contained.

Fire investigators said the exact cause of the fire is undetermined, but it is believed to be human caused. Once ignited, it spread quickly through the dry, heavy underbrush. No injuries have been reported.

Responders said the island could be closed all summer as plants are at risk of smoldering for weeks, and burnt trees could collapse and cause injury.

“We understand Bateman Island is a popular destination and valuable resource for our citizens,” states Richland Fire & Emergency Services Chief, Tom Huntington. “However, at this time the safety of our community is our utmost priority. This closure is in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers.”

- End of Update -

Smoke hovered over the Tri-Cities as a large fire burned on Bateman Island in Richland, forcing several people to evacuate the island.

According to the Richland Fire Department (RFD), the fire has burned at least a couple of acres and is expected to burn through the night into Monday morning.

Fire officials say they don't know the cause of the fire.

On Sunday night firefighters planned to continue to burn the fire off before trying to draw a containment line.

Once a line is made, firefighters will try to hold it through the night and start to release crews.

RFD Chief Tom Huntington says fighting a fire like this is a challenge due to the denseness of the trees and brush.

He adds it's also tough because of the fire's island location.

“On this island, there’s one way on, one way off, so it’s not only difficult to access. It’s dangerous. So it’s really tricky for those crews to get a safe spot to start working from and hold that safety area that they can get back into the black - what’s already burned - if something goes wrong.”

Firefighters at one point had to escort five people from the island.

Responding crews included Richland Fire, Benton County Fire District 1, Hanford Fire, Kennewick Fire and Franklin County Fire District 3 and 4.

No injuries have been reported and no structures are threatened.

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