Bateman Island remains closed as firefighters continue putting out hot spots after a Wednesday afternoon fire.
Richland fire officials said the roughly 6-acre fire on the southwestern tip of the island is 30% contained as of Thursday afternoon. The island is about 160 acres.
But Firefighter Collin McCabe said the blaze isn’t spreading and, right now, they are working on putting out the remaining hot spots and clearing away fuel from the edges of what has burned. They will continue to watch the fire as the weather gets warm.
Richland firefighters were called to the popular hiking area Wednesday by people who saw a plume of heavy smoke rising from the island about 12:30 p.m. The smoke was visible from Highway 240.
Two engines and four crews used the narrow causeway to gain access to the burning grass and trees, but difficult terrain has made it unsafe for firefighters to reach the area.
Getting to the fire was the largest problem, McCabe said The island is filled with dense brush that is hard to drive into, and is only accessible either by water or the causeway.
They also needed to create a network of hoses to get water on the fire. They were able to set up a fire truck on one side and a pump drawing water from the Yakima River, McCabe said.
A Benton County Fire District 2 boat was called in to help fight the blaze.
No one was hurt in the fire.
By about 3:30 p.m., the Richland Fire Department reported that the fire had stopped advancing.
On Thursday, a crew of about 20 contractors were working with tools to create a perimeter around the fire. McCabe said they were also putting out the remaining smoldering areas.
Investigators are still trying to determine what started the fire, but it’s suspected to have been caused by people, Fire Chief Tom Huntington told the Herald.
There were reports of waves of people leaving the island while the firefighters battled the fire.
This is the second fire to burn in the natural park this year. A lighting strike sparked a 2.5-acre brush fire on the island in early May.
The island is expected to be closed indefinitely to assess the damage and remove potential hazards, such as weakened trees.