This year was one of historic fires in Central Washington. Never since the early 1900’s was the state ever so on fire, and I was there at the start of what became one of the biggest complex fires of 2014. The Mills Canyon fire started out fairly small, located up in the mountains just outside of Entiat, WA the column of smoke was visible for miles, and I was in Wenatchee on a cherry drying contract when I noticed it. This was only a few days after the Skyline fire in Wenatchee had been started and put out so everyone in town was a bit nervous about wildfires.
I had just stopped into my normal coffee shop to do some paperwork and homework on my laptop like I normally do in the mornings on this contract when the weather is dry and the sky is blue. Except todays sky wasn’t as blue as we were all used to. A large ominous brown cloud of smoke hung over the horizon.
I made the decision that after I was done with my homework, and if there was still time in the day I’d load up in my truck with my camera and head up the river to see how bad this fire was. That point came and when I arrived in Entiat the fire had been growing steadily all day. Two DNR UH-1H Hueys and a contractor were battling the blaze with bucket drops as large tankers and a SEAT (Single Engine Air Tanker) dropped retardant and water on the fire too. Ground crews had been called in and an evacuation line had been drawn. Fortunately I had done some research the night before on fires and knew that my being with HeliOps Magazine might give me access to certain areas others couldn’t get into. It worked and I was permitted to drive just inside the evacuation zone to get some shots of the Helicopters doing bucket drops on the ridgeline.
I later fond myself up on a ridgeline, shooting down on the helicopters doing their bucket drops and watching as the turns got shorter and shorter. The fire was growing, and it quickly became apparent it was time to get out of there. Here are a few shots from that night, and the next day. I’ve got some interesting stories from “In the Zone” but I’ll save those for the bar and a beer.
<a href=”http://s103.photobucket.com/user/white33delta/story/31091″ target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m146/white33delta/story/31091/thumb/large.png” border=”0″ alt=”The Mills Canyon Fire”/></a>