Snag Canyon and South Cle Elum Ridge: Early August fires in Kittitas County (w/ links, maps, video)

A DC-10 drops red fire retardant on the Snag Canyon Fire on Sunday. The fire has reached 16 square miles as of this morning. (

The Snag Canyon Fire started lightning stuck the hills north of Ellensburg Aug. 2, and the South Cle Elum Ridge Fire in northwestern Kittitas County, though it didn’t pick up until Aug. 7, is believed to have been started by the same storm.

A fire burns north of Ellensburg around 8 p.m. Saturday, as seen from Bowers Field. (Andy Matarrese/Daily Record)

The entire staff has had a hand in covering the fires, but the bulk of it fell to me. Rather than link a bunch of stories and as-it-happened, repeatedly updated posts from the Daily Record’s website, the links to the stories I did or contributed to are all here, in chronological order (so far). Continue reading

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One dog saved, two dogs dead in trailer fire

A firefighter hoses down a trailer that caught fire on Anderson Road on Thursday. (Andy Matarrese / Daily Record)

Two dogs were killed and another rescued by a passer-by from a trailer that caught on fire Thursday afternoon in Ellensburg.

Firefighters responded to the fire at 704 Anderson Road at around 1:30 p.m., Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rich Elliott said.

A passer-by noticed and reported the fire, then went around behind the trailer to recover the dog from a kennel, he said. No one was home at the time.

Read more here.

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Henderson, Hammond lead coroner race; Each share 22 percent of total vote, will advance to the general election

Nick Henderson and Scott Hammond are leading the primary race for Kittitas County coroner.

Henderson and Hammond each had 22 percent of the vote total. They were trailed by Steve Panattoni (19 percent), Bob Richey (18 percent), Nathan Poulsen (11 percent) and Toni Rae Snowden (7 percent).

The top two will advance to the general election in November. The results included ballots cast by 7,361 of 21,942 registered voters, about 33.5 percent turnout.

The Kittitas County Auditor’s Office said the next ballot count will be at 5 p.m. Thursday. There were 723 ballots in the office yet to be tabulated, with more likely to arrive by mail over the next few days.

Both candidates said they were pleased and fairly surprised with the outcome.


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Accused child rapist pleads guilty

An Ellensburg man arrested in early May on suspicion of child rape pleaded guilty in Kittitas County Superior Court Friday, accepting a plea deal with expanded charges, including several other incidents of child rape and possession of child pornography.

Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Cullen Bradley Clark, 19, following reports he had sex with two girls, 14 and 15, in the Upper County in April and May.

He pleaded guilty to 13 counts: Five counts of third-degree rape of a child, one for third-degree child molestation and five for possession of child pornography, and one each for felony and gross misdemeanor communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

“There were a significant number of offenses that were uncovered over the course of the investigation,” Undersheriff Clay Myers said in an interview.

Court records show Cullen targeted seven different girls, ranging from around 14 to 15 years old, over the course of more than a year before his arrest.


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Water park height exception approved; Many more steps necessary before construction

The city of Ellensburg’s hearing examiner approved an exception to the city’s building code to allow the construction of a water park at the south interchange at the height planned by developers.

The ruling allows Lakeside Town Center developers to build a five-story, 77-foot hotel and water park.

The maximum building height allowed in the zone is 35 feet.

Jeff Slothower, the attorney representing Lakeside Town Center, brought the request for a variance, an exception to the zoning rule, to the city’s hearing examiner in a meting July 17.

The Ellensburg City Council appointed Andrew Kottkamp, a land-use attorney from Wenatchee, as the city hearing examiner earlier. The matter was the first considered by the hearing examiner since the city revamped its city code to include the position.


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Candidates miss funding disclosure deadlines

Most candidates for public office in Kittitas County were late to register with the Public Disclosure Commission for campaign fundraising purposes, and at least one has yet to sign up, according to PDC and Kittitas County Auditor’s Office records.

Missing the deadline isn’t an enormous problem, said PDC Communications and Training Officer Lori Anderson, but the commission will start sending out notices to candidates who have yet to file this week.

“But it’s not the first time they’ve heard from us,” she said.


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Deputy shoots, wounds pit bull in Currier Creek neighborhood

Zoey, a pit bull owned by Erik Duchesneau of Ellensburg, walks through her backyard on Friday. Zoey is recovering from a gunshot wound inflicted by a Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputy last Saturday. (Brian Myrick / Daily Record)

A Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputy shot and wounded a pit bull in the Currier Creek neighborhood just west of Ellensburg Saturday evening.

The deputy responded to reports of two aggressive dogs running loose around the 2200 block of W. Clearview Drive, near their owners’ home.

Undersheriff Clay Myers said the deputy shouted at the dogs to go away upon arrival, and they ran to a fenced area behind their house at 2206 W. Clearview Drive.

While the deputy was speaking to a couple of residents about the call, one of the dogs, a pit bull mix, reportedly charged at the three, prompting the deputy to shoot, Myers said.

The injured dog ran back behind the house, and the deputy closed the open fence door behind the two dogs.

The dog, Zoey, survived, but owner Erick Duchesneau said he can’t believe Zoey and the other dog, his roommate’s, could be that menacing.

No one was home at his house when the dogs got out that day — the first time they’ve gotten out in around six months, Duchesneau said — but he wasn’t sure how the fence got open.

Duchesneau said he thinks the officer went into the situation thinking of a neighbor’s dogs, a similar pair that are much more aggressive and have a history of getting loose in the neighborhood.


Read more here.

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