Wildfire near Goldendale: 'There's a lot of potential for growth'

GOLDENDALE, Wash. Firefighters are battling a wildfire that has grown to more than 17,000 acres near Goldendale, Wash.

The Mile Marker 28 fire along the top of Satus Pass is threatening 144 structures, but none has been damaged.

The Klickitat County sheriff's office has issued evacuation notices for the homes.

Mark Grassel of the interagency fire management team says most of Highway 97 between Goldendale and Toppenish remains closed.

The fire is 15 percent contained. The cause is under investigation.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Nick Cronquist says the fire still has "a lot of potential for growth."

"There's 1,100 firefighters and support on this incident," Cronquist said Saturday. "You're getting more helicopters. I think we had six working today."

A large plume of smoke rose above the fire on Saturday. Cronquist said that was a good sign for firefighters.

"This was very visible and the column actually punched through and went to 15,000 feet. That's actually a good thing (because) it's burning up unburned fuel that has the potential to spread the fire later on."

A spokeswoman with the Red Cross said families have been arriving at their shelter to get food and water as they continue to pack up their homes.