Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Taylor Bridge Fire Likely Caused By DOT Contractors

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network

A massive fire that burned 61 homes in Central Washington was likely caused by Department of Transportation contractors. That’s the upshot of a report issued Monday by Washington’s Department of Natural Resources.

The aptly named Taylor Bridge Fire started August 13 right after transportation contractors did some welding work on that bridge. It happened near the mountain town of Cle Elum.

The report says it appears state contractors were using equipment that might not have been allowed given the low humidity, high temperatures, wind speed and time of day. And the manager trained to operate a water truck on site, was in town getting supplies at the time of the fire. He returned after the fire started, but Bryan Flint with the Department of Natural Resources says it was too late.

“The first individual that drove the truck down to the site, attached a garden hose to the truck and was unable to get enough water out of it. It was the superintendent that knew how to turn on the jets at the front of the truck.”

The Taylor Bridge fire cost about $11 million to fight. The state is looking to collect about half that from those the state Attorney General deems responsible.

On the Web:

Taylor Bridge Fire Investigation Report (Washington Dept. of Natural Resources)

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.