Fueled by strong winds and unseasonably warm temperatures, a wildfire in Washington state has blown up to 2,000 hectares on Sunday, forcing thousands of evacuations.
The fire, called the Nakia Creek Fire, started Oct. 9 on Larch Mountain, northeast of Camas in Clark County, near the Oregon border, as it moved through the steep, rocky terrain of the Yacolt Burn State Forest.
The fire grew from 156 hectares to 2,000 hectares in a matter of hours on Sunday amid severe weather conditions, with extreme warm temperatures, low humidity and high winds. Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Firefighters reported good progress battling the blaze earlier in the week, after weather conditions worsened as wind fanned the blaze as it tore through wood, underbrush and dry grass. The Nakia Creek Fire was 5% contained by Sunday night.
“Easterly winds were so strong today that air assets were occasionally grounded for safety,” Clarke County Emergency Services Agency officials said in an afternoon update.
As the fire erupted on very steep terrain and was seen further away, more residents were told to evacuate their homes.
Nearly 3,000 homes were under evacuation orders Sunday night, and thousands more were told to prepare to flee.
A Red Flag warning was extended until Sunday for the area amid unseasonably warm and dry easterly winds.
This year’s fire season has been a long one for Washington State fire crews, who have been putting in long days for several months, Clark County officials said, noting that the fire season typically ends in October.
“With the current weather patterns here in the PNW, we have another good week of potential fire weather,” officials with the Clark Emergency Services Agency said, describing a fire official as saying, “even though the calendar may say it’s October 16th … I need you.” to think as if it were the 16th of August.’
Some cities in the area had record temperatures over the weekend. The temperature in Seattle reached a record high of 88 degrees on Sunday the second hottest day of October record and breaking the daily record of 72 degrees set in 2018, he says National Weather Service.
Authorities reported other area fires Sunday, including near Chelatchie Prairie and Sunset Campground in Clark County, as well as several in neighboring Skamania County.