Smoke rises into the sky with Waughop Lake in the foreground at Fort Steilacoom Park on Aug. 16, 2023.

Fire at Fort Steilacoom Park

Aug. 16, 2023

Burned earth with a large tree on the right and walking paths are what remain after a brush fire overtook Fort Steilacoom Park near Waughop Lake on Aug. 16, 2023

Roughly 10 acres burned Wednesday in Fort Steilacoom Park along its southwest boundary. The wildfire burned in the natural area up the hill from Waughop Lake. Many walking trails pass through this area.

There were no injuries immediately reported from the fire. A couple of firefighters who responded experienced heat-related illness due to the extreme outside temperature.

The trail around Waughop Lake and the walking trails through the burned area remain closed while firefighters continue to put out hot spots. Crews will likely be on site overnight monitoring and responding as necessary. Please obey all barricades and closure signs. This is for public safety.

Once the fire was largely contained, investigators could begin trying to determine how the fire started. It is still too early to know what caused it.

Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield issued a proclamation of emergency Wednesday night. Issuance of the proclamation authorizes city officials to take “necessary extraordinary measures” that may be required to respond to the fire and “protect life and property.” The proclamation allows the City to access state and federal resources or other financial assistance as necessary.

Out of an abundance of caution, first responders evacuated homes nearby Wednesday afternoon. In some cases first responders knocked on doors telling people to leave. The City of Lakewood issued an alert encouraging people to evacuate who lived on specific streets between the park’s southwest border and Farwest Drive. Pierce College was also evacuated.

A cooling center was set up at nearby Claudia Thomas Middle School. The Red Cross assisted with providing water and snacks to those who were waiting to return home.

Shortly after 5 p.m. the evacuation orders were lifted. People could safely return home.

The fire was contained to the 360-acre Fort Steilacoom Park. Crews from fire agencies across Pierce County rushed to the scene to assist. This includes both from fire agencies and local police.

The state Department of Natural Resources sent members of its wildland fire team to the scene. Two of its helicopters were used to pull water from Waughop Lake and drop it on the fire. DNR also brought in two bulldozers to help create fire lines. The purpose of these lines is to reduce the likelihood the fire could spread, if hot spots flare up. Law enforcement from Pierce County assisted in escorting the bulldozers from east Pierce County to Lakewood to get them to the scene quickly.

The quick response by so many agencies, coupled with the assistance from DNR helped contain the fire to Fort Steilacoom Park. The City of Lakewood extends its heartfelt thanks to all who responded and kept this fire in the park and away from nearby homes. The City also thanks our law enforcement partners who assisted on site and backfilled for Lakewood police officers who were helping with the emergency response and unable to respond to daily 911 calls.

Follow the City’s accounts on social media to stay up on the latest information, including the results of the investigation into the brush fire.

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Flames rise into the sky with fire trucks in the foreground at Waughop Lake in Fort Steilacoom Park on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023
A DNR helicopter drops water over a fire at Fort Steilacoom Park on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.
Smoke rises into the sky with Waughop Lake in the foreground at Fort Steilacoom Park on Aug. 16, 2023.