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Fire crews get containment of South Kitsap fire

A South Kitsap Fire and Rescue battalion chief said fire crews contained a slow-burning fire, between the end of Overaa Road SE and Colvos Passage.

Battalion Cheif Jon Gudmundsen said the fire — discovered about 7 p.m. Sunday — was an “underground fire” which has burned between 2-3 acres of a heavily wooded area south of Sedgwick Road in South Kitsap.

“It’s slow moving and we’re getting the upper hand,” Gudmundsen said. “We’ll have containment by Tuesday afternoon.”

The fire was about 1,000 feet from the end of Overaa Road SE and no homes were threatened.

Gudmundsen said the fire has been burning for a long time.

“The speculation is that the fire has been burning underground for more than a month, working its way around into the root systems,” he said.

He said the fire was complex because of the size and the topography of the terrain.

Local residents notified SKFR Sunday night after they smelled smoke in the area late last week, Gudmundsen said. Fire crews arrived at the scene and began cutting trails to reach the blaze.

“We spent about an hour trying to pinpoint the fire once we arrived in the area,” Gudmundsen said. “We spent several hours before we were able to get out about 2 a.m. early Monday morning.”

He said the area contains a different type of vegetation compared to Eastern Washington.

“It’s really wet here,” said Gudmundsen. “There is a big canopy here that keeps the sun from drying out fallen leaves. It’s a fairly damp area with a creek running through it.”

Gudmundsen said the cause of the fire is unknown.

“We speculate it could be from a camp fire or something like it,” he said. “We have not found anything that indicates that so far.”

Gudmundsen said he discontinued fighting the blaze during the night time because it was too dangerous for firefighters.

“Some firefighters were reporting they would be walking along, then all the sudden they would fall into a 2- to 3-foot hole that had been burned out,” he said.

The battalion chief said the fire was burning into the root systems and up in the trees.

“Some of the trees were torching up spontaneously and branches were falling out of the trees,” Gudmundsen said.

He said crews cut paths to the blaze so fire hoses could be laid. Water tenders have been traveling to and from the area since Sunday night.

“We started getting water on the fire, as well as the hand crews digging around the fire,” Gudmundsen said.

He noted a strike team — comprised of firefighters from within Kitsap, King and Pierce counties — arrived Monday and Tuesday to assist with the fire. About 30 firefighters were battling the blaze Tuesday.

Gudmundsen said during the summer months, SKFR responds to brush fires in the area, but nothing as large this week’s fire.

 

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