66 large fires burn in US: Washington state evacuates thousands

66 large fires burn in US: Washington state evacuates thousands

Firefighters in Ramsey Crossing, California, tackling the Mosquito Fire on Sept. 15. The biggest fire in California this year has burned nearly 76,800 acres and has been active for 39 days, but it’s now 95% contained. Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Authorities in southwest Washington ordered evacuations for thousands of homes as a wind-driven wildfire rapidly grew on Sunday.

The big picture: There’s an unusually high number of wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Canada, as much of the Western United States faces “above normal temperatures and minimum relative humidity,” per the National Inter Agency Fire Center.

The NWS tweet on record high temperatures in Washington state, including 72F in Seattle.
Photo: National Weather Service Seattle/Twitter
  • There are “record high temperatures, dry weather, wildfire concerns and air quality issues across the Pacific Northwest continues,” according to the National Weather Service.

By the numbers: Washington’s Nakia Creek Fire, near Camas, east of Vancouver, which prompted Sunday’s evacuation orders is one of 66 large fires in the US, according to the NIFC.

  • The Clark Emergency Services Agency expanded evacuation zones in response to the fire Sunday, affecting 35,000-40,000 homes, KGW reports.

Zoom in: Smoke from that Washington wildfire in eastern Clark County that’s razed some 2,000 acres was “visible throughout the metropolitan area that Vancouver shares with Portland, Oregon,” AP notes.

  • An air quality advisory remained in place for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley in southwestern British Columbia due to wildfires in Washington and Canada, per a Metro Vancouver tweet Sunday evening.
A Twitter post by Canada's BC Wildfire Service about firefighters responding to several lightening-caused fires.
Photo: BC Wildfire Service/Twitter

Zoom out: 24 large fires were burning in Idaho, 22 in Montana, 13 in Washington and five in Oregon on Sunday, per NIFC data.

  • California and South Dakota each reported one large fire.

Context: Scientific research shows climate change is a key factor in wildfire risk.

What we’re watching: “An upper ridge indicative of anomalous warmth will move across the Northwest over the next several days, in stark contrast to the cold in the eastern two-thirds of the country,” per a National Weather Service outlook update on Sunday night.

  • “Highs in the 70s and 80s in the Pacific Northwest will be 15-25 degrees above average, and potentially record setting through midweek,” the NWS added.

Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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