From a jetliner coming into Sea-Tac Airport on Saturday, 2 September 2017, smoke from Central Washington wildfires can be seen. Photo: Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

By Christine Clarridge
3 September 2017

(The Seattle Times) – With the hottest and driest time of the year upon us, fires are continuing to rage in the Pacific Northwest, threatening homes and forcing evacuations in Oregon, Eastern Washington, and British Columbia.

The fires are consuming hundreds of thousands of acres, trapping hikers and causing air quality to plummet throughout the region as the wind alternately blows from the north, east and south.

A wildfire in Central Washington has crossed the border into Canada. The Diamond Creek fire, near the Canadian border in the Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest, has burned more than more than 68,000 acres and is affecting air quality in the Methow Valley. Crystal Mountain Resort closed Monday due to smoke from the Norse Peak fire, burning about 125 miles southeast of Seattle.

The Jolly Mountain fire, near Cle Elum, is smaller but is posing a bigger threat to public safety, according to fire officials. More than 1,000 people have been evacuated due to the blaze which is threatening more than 380 homes and has prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency.

In Oregon, the Eagle Creek fire  had consumed more than 3,000 acres of steep, dry land by Sunday, and about 140 hikers were stranded Saturday night on a popular hiking trail in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. As those hikers were being safely reunited Sunday with family, residents of about 130 homes in Cascade Locks were under evacuation orders because of the smoke and flames. […]

Mike Stearly, a public-information officer for Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, said Saturday the Chetco Bar fire was being fought by 1,700 people and had displaced 5,000 residents. Another group of Josephine County residents were being told to prepare to leave their homes if necessary. […]

Stearly said the most active fires this weekend in Washington — the Jolly Mountain and Eagle Creek fires — grew because they were whipped up by wind due to their higher elevation, which kept them above the dampening effects of a “smoke inversion.” [more]

Smoke forces Crystal Mountain to close as fires rage in Central Washington, Oregon and British Columbia



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