COLTON - State fire assistance has been mobilized under the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan in support of local firefighters working to contain what is being called the Steptoe Canyon Fire, located near Colton.

Officials say the fire started at approximately 2:15 a.m. Thursday, and was estimated at 500 acres and growing, as of approximately 9:00 a.m. Thursday. A statement from the State Fire Marshal’s Office says the fire is threatening homes, rangeland, agricultural crops, and Bonneville Power Administration resources. Level 1 evacuations are in effect at this time.

The fire cause is currently under investigation.

As of Thursday morning, officials say the Steptoe Canyon Fire was burning in grass and brush. Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste authorized the mobilization of state firefighting resources at 6:00 a.m. Thursday, at the request of Fire Chief Jay Reisenauer, Whitman County Fire District 14.

The State Emergency Operations Center at western Washington's Camp Murray will remain partially activated at Level 2 to help coordinate state assistance for the Steptoe Canyon Fire. Mobilization specialists from the Fire Protection Bureau have ordered three strike teams and one hand crew. State Fire Marshal’s Office personnel were en route to the scene and working remotely to coordinate the dispatch of resources on Thursday morning.