NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, September 10th, 2022

Pacific Northwest grapples with an increasing number of wildfires as summer’s end nears

The skies above many areas of the Pacif­ic North­west grew smok­i­er Sat­ur­day as the num­ber of wild­fires plagu­ing the region increased in num­ber and sever­i­ty, lead­ing to a fresh round of high­way clo­sures and prop­er­ty evac­u­a­tions with only days left until the end of sum­mer and the begin­ning of autumn.

Some of the newest fires are burn­ing on the west side of the Cas­cades in rugged ter­rain, pos­ing a chal­lenge to fire­fight­ing crews hop­ing to con­tain their spread.

Washington

In the Ever­green State, author­i­ties were rac­ing to respond to the Bolt Creek Fire, which ignit­ed near Skykomish and forced the clo­sure of U.S. Route 2, as well as evac­u­a­tions of rur­al King and Sno­homish Coun­ty res­i­dents. The Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources has deployed air­craft to fight the fire, includ­ing water scoop­ers, but it con­tin­ues to burn in rugged ter­rain. Smoke from the fire was being fun­neled over much of North­west Wash­ing­ton as of late after­noon Saturday.

The fire was report­ed­ly burn­ing a hun­dred acres as of 5 AM Sat­ur­day. By the after­noon the con­fla­gra­tion had engulfed more than 2,000 acres.

There were a total of five large fires burn­ing in Wash­ing­ton as of Sep­tem­ber 10th, accord­ing to the DNR’s wild­ifre intel­li­gence por­tal.

South of Mount Rainier, not far from Pack­wood, the weeks-long smol­der­ing Goat Rocks Fire was get­ting worse due to high winds.

“The Goat Rocks Fire is esti­mat­ed to be 1,500 acres in size,” said a Sep­tem­ber 10th sta­tus report. “The inci­dent was dis­cov­ered on August 9th, 2022 and was part­ly sup­pressed by a rap­pel attack crew. Crews sup­pressed what they safe­ly could and the fire was mon­i­tored. On Sep­tem­ber 9, 2022 the fire began to increase in size dur­ing a high wind event.” 

The fire prompt­ed the clo­sure of U.S. 12 lead­ing to White Pass and evac­u­a­tions of the Tim­ber­line, Goat Rocks, and High Val­ley neigh­bor­hoods east of Packwood. 

“This morn­ing crews are uti­liz­ing air­craft where they can to slow fire growth and low­er fire inten­si­ty before weath­er con­di­tions dete­ri­o­rate. As wind speeds increase air­craft become less effec­tive and con­di­tions become dif­fi­cult and dan­ger­ous to fly in. Once those winds pick up air­craft will return to their bases for safe­ty. Addi­tion­al resources arrived this morn­ing and they are work­ing to con­tin­ue  iden­ti­fy­ing and con­struct­ing fire breaks where they safe­ly can.”

Oregon

In the Beaver State, the Cedar Creek Fire con­tin­ues to imper­il Oakridge, a moun­tain com­mu­ni­ty in the Cas­cades not far from Bend and Sun­riv­er. Alarm­ing­ly, the fire dou­bled in size yes­ter­day and is now a much graver threat than before.

The fire’s cur­rent acreage is 73,922, accord­ing to an infrared flight. It has torched a sig­nif­i­cant amount of the shore­line of Wal­do Lake. Much of Route 58 through the Cas­cades is present­ly closed due to the fire. 

The Cedar Creek Fire ignit­ed August 1st and was caused by light­ning. 862 per­son­nel are cur­rent­ly work­ing on fight­ing this fire, with 29 engines, 19 crews, 46 pieces of heavy equip­ment and 8 helicopters.

The author­i­ties have set up a Face­book page for updates on this fire.

“The fire has not crossed west of High­way 19; fire­fight­ers are work­ing to hold and improve the east side,” a morn­ing update explained.

“Spot fires crossed south of High­way 58 at Kit­son Ridge. Fire­fight­ers are work­ing to keep the fire north of For­est Road 1928. Today’s fire activ­i­ty is expect­ed to be extreme with long-range spot­ting and crown runs.”

“Expect a large smoke col­umn to devel­op by mid-morn­ing. East of Wal­do Lake, the Alas­ka Inci­dent Man­age­ment Team has estab­lished two branch­es and six divi­sions to work in the Deschutes Nation­al For­est side of the Cedar Creek Fire. Where pos­si­ble, direct attack water drops with heli­copters is occur­ring on the south­east edge. Crews are prepar­ing Road 4290 from Charl­ton Lakes to the Cas­cade Lakes High­way to con­trol the spread of the fire to the southeast.”

“To pre­vent the spread of the fire toward the east, efforts are focused on shad­ed fuel breaks 100–200 feet in depth on both sides of the Cas­cade Lakes High­way. Crews are work­ing in the Brown Moun­tain area south of Crane Prairie Lake and work­ing north. From the north, crews are work­ing from the 2017 Nash Fire burned area near Elk Lake and improv­ing the fuel breaks on both sides of the Cas­cade Lakes High­way work­ing south. Addi­tion­al con­tin­gen­cies are being scout­ed for east of the Cas­cade Lakes Highway.”

Mean­while, up in the Mount Hood area, a small­er fire that ignit­ed in Milo McIv­er State Park close to the entrance and day use area (which con­tains a nice look­out offer­ing views of Mount Hood) forced the author­i­ties to evac­u­ate the entire park dur­ing the mid­dle of the night, includ­ing those who stay­ing in the campground.

Clacka­mas Coun­ty evac­u­at­ed near­by res­i­dents. Author­i­tieis told KATU 2 they have done a good job con­tain­ing the fire. “We have been doing a great job keep­ing it at bay,” an offi­cial said. “We real­ly expect to get a pret­ty good han­dle on it.”

Fur­ther to the south, fire­fighers were mak­ing progress on the Dou­ble Creek Fire.

“The cool­er weath­er has mod­er­at­ed fire behav­ior some­what in the tim­ber, but the fire is still active­ly spread­ing in the grass.  Struc­ture pro­tec­tion prepa­ra­tions are com­plete along Lostine Road. Ore­gon State Fire Mar­shal (OSFM) task forces con­tin­ue to assist with oper­a­tions on the south side of Dou­ble Creek.”

The fire is now at 147,582 acres in size. 

It is 15% con­tained, with 796 per­son­nel assigned.

“The west side of the fire has been secured and Upper Imna­ha Road from Imna­ha to Freeze­out Road is in patrol sta­tus,” a Sat­ur­day morn­ing update explained. 

“The fire con­tin­ues to active­ly spread in the dry grass on the north, east, and south side of the fire. Fire­fight­ers are work­ing in Horse Creek drainage on the north side of the fire to secure struc­tures and look for oppor­tu­ni­ties to build con­trol line to the east. Riv­er boats are being used to patrol and assess struc­ture pro­tec­tion needs along the Snake Riv­er. Fire­fight­ers con­tin­ue to pro­tect struc­tures along Upper Imna­ha Road on the south side of the fire and to scout for poten­tial con­trol lines to tie the road to the Snake Riv­er to the east.”

“The OSFM task forces are engaged in struc­ture pro­tec­tion prepa­ra­tions in Imna­ha Riv­er Woods four miles south of the fires edge. 

Index of significant fires

Amelia Road
Big Swamp
Boul­der Mountain
Cedar Creek
Chill­i­wack Complex‘
Clover­land Grade
Crock­ets Knob
Dou­ble Creek
Goat Rocks
Irv­ing Peak
Jones Creek
NW Pasayten Complex
Pot­ter
Rum Creek
Sev­en Bays
Sheep Head
Van Meter
White Riv­er
Windi­go

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