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Walla Walla Makes Preparations As Blue Creek Fire Threatens Water Supply

A plane drops retardant on a section of the Blue Creek Fire near Walla Walla, Washington.

The massive Blue Creek Fire near Walla Walla, Washington, is putting the city’s drinking water supply in jeopardy. The fire is burning along the area’s watershed line as fire crews work around the clock to contain it.

More ground crew firefighters arrived Thursday to help out.

Mori Struve with Walla Walla’s Public Works Department said the city is preparing ground wells for a backup water supply.

“We just made sure that the wells are all been sampled, and tested as we don't run them all the time, but they have been sampled and tested here this week,” Struve said. “And we've just put those in place, so at any time we could turn on the wells. That's the biggest piece of preparation.”

Firefighters are now focusing most of their attention on the area of the fire nearest the watershed. Weather conditions are working in firefighters’ favor. Cooler temperatures are helping control the Blue Creek fire and wind has helped to push it away.

Washington Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Nick Cronquist said the weather change makes it less likely the fire will spread into the sensitive area that provides drinking water for thousands of people.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the weather, because the weather’s actually cooperating,” Cronquist said. “The wind is actually pushing the fire in on itself and actually to the east, away from the watershed. So, the cooler temperatures allow for the firefighters to get up to the fire, and actually extinguish it along the lines they are trying to establish.”

Slightly cooler temperatures are predicted in the area throughout the weekend and into early next week. The Blue Creek Fire continues to be the top priority wildfire in the Northwest.