More evacuations ordered as fire near Goldendale grows

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GOLDENDALE, Wash. -- A tough to fight fire near Goldendale, Wash. forced more than 150 evacuations.

The Mile Marker 28 fire, as it is known, is now burning nearly 5,000 acres of steep terrain. Families in 30 homes had previously been evacuated, and late Friday residents in 150 more homes were told they also needed to get out.

Fire officials said the fire mainly grew to the east overnight, but also creeped to the south. It is three percent contained.

The fire is threatening 180 structures, including 69 homes.

Part of Highway 97 could be closed for a week while crews try to get a handle on this latest fire that's being called the Mile Marker 28 Fire. Road blocks are in place at Goldendale and Toppenish. The fire is burning 15 miles NE of Goldendale.

It's not yet clear where or how this fire started. Dozens more homes are at risk as firefighters try to get a handle on the flames ripping through the forest.

Incident commanders expect nearly 800 firefighters to be working the fire by Friday.

Crews evacuated about 30 homes in the area and more residents on the south side of the fire have been put on notice that they might be forced to leave.

The fire started on Yakama Nation land and spread to Washington Department of National Resources land.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect through Saturday evening. Dry conditions, low relative humidity and hot temperatures mean high fire danger.

Joan Felton lives along Highway 97 in Toppenish. A 50 mile stretch of the roadway is closed from Goldendale towards her home. From her backyard, she can typically see the mountain range that is now burning. A cloud of smoke blocks that view.

"It's just scary because I have to go find some place else to be," said neighbor Joan Felton.

Felton's home isn't immediately at risk, but her asthma is forcing her to leave. She worries about the homeowners who could lose it all.

"I just feel bad for them. I understand how they feel," she said. "That's horrible. It's a horrible feeling to possibly lose everything."

This summer's extreme heat isn't helping. Parched trees and brush have become ample fuel for fire. Joan says the fright of a fire so close to home is a scary reality.

A Community Meeting has been planned for Saturday, July 27th, beginning at 7:00 PM at the Klickitat PUD Meeting Room located at 1313 Columbus in Goldendale, Washington. Fire officials and other agency representatives will update the public on the current fire situation and evacuation notices.

KIMA reporter Matt Finn and KATU reporter Mary Loos contributed to this report