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UPDATED: Large Forest Fire on Portage Island

Portage Island fire on southern end - Photo credit-- Patti Evich
Portage Island fire on southern side. Photo credit: Patti Evich via Facebook. Click to view larger.

Police and fire units were dispatched to investigate several reports of a  “large” and growing forest fire on the southern side of Portage Island on Saturday, July 4th at about 4pm.

Portage Island is connected to the mainland by a large sandbar that is easily driven across during low tides.

Shortly after the fire was reported a request for help came from someone trying to drive off the island who reportedly had an accident in their vehicle. But soon after they reported they were okay and continuing to evacuate.

Locals say no one lives on the island permanently but camping there is popular. Bellingham Fire reported approximately 40 people were evacuated from the island.

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There have been fires before on the island. One in 2009 occurred on July 5th, nearly to the same day as today’s fire.

No official report of the cause has been announced. More information will be posted here as it is made available.

Update: 6:30pm
A command center was set up on Lummi Shore Drive adjacent to the access route onto Portage Island. Official word from fire officials there is Washington Department of Natural Resources, which fights fires on state land, will be accessing the site by boat to begin containing the fire. There are no buildings or people at risk on the remote south side of the island. Fully extinguishing the fire will likely take a day or more. Officials confirmed no injuries have been reported.

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