Northwest wild fires continue to grow

Firefighters observe efforts to protect the Multonomah Falls Lodge in Oregon.
Firefighters observe efforts to protect the Multonomah Falls Lodge in Oregon.

— Fire crews spent Wednesday night protecting the historic Multnomah Lodge from the rapidly growing Eagle Creek Fire.

More than 600 firefighters were on the ground yesterday trying to keep the 30,929-acre fire from continuing its march through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

While they protected the historic lodge along Interstate 84, several other structures in the Gorge have been destroyed, officials said, noting an evacuation center has been set up in the Washington town of Stevenson.

The fire is one of several burning on mostly government-managed lands in the Pacific Northwest.

The blaze, combined with 13 other active wildfires in Washington state, prompted health officials to issue air advisories for the Lower Yakima Valley for the second day in a row.

According to officials, the air quality in the Lower Yakima Valley is the worst in the state due to smoke from Eagle Creek and other fires filing the Columbia River and Yakima River valleys.

Sunnyside Ace Hardware was running low on dust masks, employees said, noting area residents are looking for ways to filter ash and other particulates out of the air.

Fire officials yesterday estimated that 195,000 acres had been charred by active fires in Washington state alone in the past few days.

At an estimated 105,000 acres, Diamond Creek Fire, burning in the Pasayten Wilderness Area of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, is the largest fire burning in the state.

Closer to home, the Norse Peak Fire had charred 43,482 acres northwest of Naches, also in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, as well as Mount Rainier National Park.

Evacuations have been ordered for the Yakima County community of Cliffdell, as well as areas of Mount Rainier National Park, like Sunrise.

The third largest fire in Washington is also in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Near Ronald, between Cle Elum and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the Jolly Mountain Fire was at 24,514 acres yesterday.

Other larger fires currently burning in Washington state include:

Sawmill Creek — 840 acres on state Department of Natural Resources managed lands

Uno Peak — 6,017 acres, burning in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Quarry — 130 acres in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Bridge Creek and Noisy Creek fires — A combined 7,709 acres on the Colville reservation


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