UPDATED: Bellevue FD Responds to Brush Fire in Newcastle
Posted on 10/25/2019

UPDATE 10:30 a.m. Oct. 25

The fire in the May Creek ravine is still under control and poses no risk to people or homes, but it continues to smolder. Recent rainfall has helped combat the fire, so officials have determined it is safe to reopen the May Creek Trail. Please stick to the posted trail and do not veer off, as there are still smoke and landslide hazards near the fire. Thank you for your patience.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m. Oct. 1

The fire burning in the May Creek ravine is still under control and poses no risk to people or homes, but smoke could continue to be a nuisance as the fire is expected to smolder for several weeks, Bellevue Fire officials said on Tuesday.

After consulting with several agencies, Bellevue Fire ceased efforts to extinguish the fire last week. Safety issues and potential debris run-off led to the determination that the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out. In the meantime, firefighters will continue to monitor the site.

The area near the fire remains unsafe due to landslide concerns, tree fall danger and air quality issues. For those reasons, pedestrians should prepare for a prolonged closure of the May Creek Trail. Fire officials recommended the Trail remain closed due to heightened concerns over carbon monoxide levels. Please avoid May Creek Trail until further notice. You can see a map of alternate trails on the Newcastle Trails website at newcastletrails.org.

On Tuesday, investigators ruled the fire accidental and determined that it started after decomposing organic material ignited in an area where landscaping debris and grass clippings were illegally dumped. Once the fire is out and the site is safe, the City will conduct a full investigation to establish who could be liable for the fire and associated firefighting costs.

The City of Newcastle will continue to post updates on this webpage as new information is available.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m. Sept. 25
Press Release via Bellevue Fire Department

The Bellevue Fire Department, in coordination with the City of Newcastle and the state departments of Natural Resources and Ecology, is monitoring a brush fire in the May Creek ravine near the 12200 block of Southeast 95th Way in Newcastle.

The fire is burning on the hillside in unstable, steep terrain, resisting traditional firefighting efforts so far. Following a recommendation from both Natural Resources and Ecology, Bellevue Fire has ceased efforts to extinguish the fire. (Bellevue is contracted to provide fire protection for Newcastle.)

Safety issues and potential debris run-off led to the determination that the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out. Firefighters will continue to closely monitor the fire. Until further notice, the May Creek trail is closed to public access.

Currently the fire is not spreading, and no nearby residences are threatened. Smoke may continue to be a nuisance as it is anticipated to take approximately 10 days for the fire go out. Forecasted rains may help reduce the smoke and speed extinguishment.

Investigation into the origin of the fire is ongoing. Updates will be posted on the Newcastle website.


UPDATE 10:30 a.m. Sept. 24

A large brush fire burning in the May Creek Park area is still under control and poses no risk to people or homes, but could remain smoldering for several days due to steep terrain and access issues, fire officials say. Pedestrians should continue to avoid May Creek Trail until firefighters clear the scene.

The Bellevue Fire Department was first dispatched to the fire in the 12200 block of Southeast 95th Way on Sunday. The fire is on a steep hillside with poor access routes. That, combined with the fire’s large size, makes this response particularly challenging, fire officials said.

At this point, fire officials believe the best approach is to keep the fire contained and allow it to burn itself out. The City of Newcastle will continue to coordinate with Bellevue Fire on evaluating other options, but this fire is too hot and deep to fight in any traditional manner. A cause of the fire has not been determined, but officials will continue to investigate.

There are no plans to evacuate residents in the surrounding area. The most noticeable impact is the smoky air in localized areas. Smoke from fires can be dangerous. You can take a few steps to protect your health:

— Stay indoors, if possible, and limit your physical activity.

— Keep your indoor air clean. Close windows and doors.

— If your health conditions get worse around smoke, contact your health care provider. Call 911 if you or someone else has serious symptoms, like trouble breathing.

— Check on others. Check on elderly or at-risk neighbors. Make sure they have what they need. Offer them a place with cleaner indoor air if available.

UPDATE 5:15 p.m. Sept. 23 
The fire, while contained, is still actively burning. Firefighters may be on scene for a couple of days. The ground is still pretty unstable and we ask you to avoid May Creek Trail until we clear the scene.

ORIGINAL POST Sept. 23:
At about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22, the Bellevue Fire Department was dispatched to a large brush fire in the 12200 block of Southeast 95th Way in Newcastle. According to the Bellevue FD, the fire is under control, but due to steep terrain and access issues, it may be a few hours until the fire is out. Our partners at Bellevue Fire respectfully request you stay away from the May Creek Trail at this time.

The fire is on a steep hillside with poor access and the size of the fire and location made containment very difficult. Bellevue firefighters were on scene all night extinguishing hot spots as they flared up. Our Public Works staff members were there all night as well, assisting and monitoring downstream impacts to May Creek.

It appears the fire and response has caused some degree of a slide from a steep cornice. The area where the fire is centered at this point is not easily accessible and depending how the next few hours go, there may be the need to bring heavy equipment from an outside source to help. In the last hour, Eastside Fire and Rescue has brought in a drone to help get a better look at things which will help determine next steps.

We'll share updates as more information is available.

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