Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wildfire Smoke Fouls Air Across U.S. Northwest

NASA satellite captures thick plumes of smoke from wildfires (Credit: NASA) Click to Enlarge.
In north-central Washington, a cluster of deadly fires dubbed the Okanogan Complex jumped some 20,000 acres in size from the day prior to more than 280,267 acres (113,420 hectares), after a blanket of cooler air lifted, kicking up winds and heat.

The fire, now the state's largest on record, was 17 percent contained on Wednesday, up from Monday's 10 percent.

Evacuation orders were issued for more than 2,000 residents and thousands more have been advised they may soon need to flee as well, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Suzanne Flory.

Last week, three firefighters were killed and four were injured in an initial assault on a branch of the Okanogan Complex.  So far this year, U.S. wildland blazes have claimed the lives of at least 13 firefighters.

About 50 miles (80 km) to the south, fires have scorched 88,142 acres (35,670 hectares) along Lake Chelan, and some 1,000 residents in the area of a resort town at the foot of the lake remain under evacuation orders.

This summer's blazes have stretched resources thin, prompting a rare enlistment of firefighting reinforcements from the U.S. military and abroad.

President Barack Obama said in an interview with Seattle's KIRO-TV that Congress should focus on funding the fight against wildfires when it returns from its summer break.

"Each year we’ve seen it get worse.  Part of this has to do with climate change, and it’s something that we’re going to have to anticipate in the decades in the future," he said.

Read more at Wildfire Smoke Fouls Air Across U.S. Northwest

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