Rain Is Coming, But for Now Local Wildfires Are Still Sparking

The fires sparked during this unseasonably warm October are driving our subpar air quality, too.

By Sam Stites October 17, 2022

An evacuation map for the Nakia Creek fire in Clark County, Washington, shows fire officials were able to tighten evacuation zones Monday after the fire grew rapidly due to unfavorable weather conditions over the weekend.

With cooler temperatures and heavy rainfall expected by the end of this week, wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest is (hopefully) coming to an end soon.

But for now, firefighters are still battling blazes across Oregon and Washington, though improving weather conditions on Monday allowed fire officials in Southwest Washington to downgrade evacuation orders in Clark County.

At the Nakia Creek fire there, strong easterly winds and warm temperatures over the weekend saw the fire located nine miles northeast of Camas, Washington, jump from just around 200 acres to more than 1,500 acres by Monday morning, causing  evacuation orders to go into effect for tens of thousands of Clark and Skamania County residents.

The fire is estimated at 5 percent containment as crews continue to attack the north, west and south sides of the fire. 

According to the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA), fire officials were able to tighten up evacuation orders on Monday, reducing the number of dwellings threatened in the Level 3 “Go No” zone to around 550. Approximately 800 homes remain in the Level 2 “Be Ready” zone, with an additional 1,100 homes on Level 1 “Be Ready” alert.

According to CRESA, heavy smoke and heat Sunday grounded aircraft fighting the fire. But those aircraft were back in action Monday.

“While the weather is favorable today, there are still a lot of uncertainties,” CRESA said in a statement Monday.  “Firefighting activities are dependent on the weather.  Please be patient but be prepared. We urge folks to err on the side of caution.”

The Nakia Creek fire is just one of approximately 10 fires burning in Washington between the Canadian border and the Columbia River.

A handful of fires continue to burn in Oregon, including the 120-acre Fishhawk Loop fire that sparked this past Friday in the Clatsop State Forest,  about nine miles southwest of Clatskanie. That fire is estimated at 50 percent containment.

Air quality advisories are in effect across much of the area west of the Cascade Range in both Oregon and Washington, particularly for sensitive groups who live downwind (west) of the Nakia Creek fire, like the elderly and those who are immunocompromised. Fire officials are urging residents to regularly monitor local air quality and take measures to protect their health while smoke lingers in the air.

If you want to take advantage of the last few warm, sunny days by recreating outdoors, plot your route to avoid road closures, so as to give fire crews and evacuees plenty of room.

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