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Brisk Winds Hamper Firefighting Efforts, Even As Temperatures Are Expected To Cool

Courtesy of National Weather Service

The region's hot, dry conditions are hampering efforts to put out wildfires. One of those is burning in Stevens County. It started in a building near Ford yesterday afternoon. Gusty winds pushed it to more than 5000 acres overnight.? Aircraft were to begin operations again Monday morning to fight the fire. A Level 3, or leave immediately, alert was issued for the area of Scotts Valley all the way to Rail Canyon intersection and SR231. Level 2 notices have been issued for those on the Spokane Indian Reservation along Ford-Wellpinit Road, up to Reservation Road. ?A Red Cross evacuation center is at the Wellpinit School.
Fire crews are tracking nearly 30 uncontained larges fires across Washington and Oregon, as well as several more in Idaho. About a half a million acres of land have burned so far.

The high heat and low humidity have caused several fires to grow over the last few days.

Mike Stearly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center says they have what they need to fight the fires, but only just that.

“Crews and resources are harder to come by because we’re experiencing fire in California, Montana, Wyoming, all throughout the west," he said.

The state of Washington says it will send resources to fight three new fires, including the fire near Ford. The Muckamuck fire burning near Conconully in Okanogan County began nearly two weeks ago, but the state just authorized additional firefighters and equipment to battle the 2,500 acre brush and timber fire. It's threatening homes and other structures and level 3 evacuations are place.

Resources are also heading to the 25 Mile fire burning near Chelan. That fire began on Saturday afternoon and is also threatening homes and infrastructure. Level 3 evacuations are also in effect there.

The wildfire season started early this year, but authorities won’t know until the season ends how it compares to past seasons.


Kristian Foden-Vencil is a veteran journalist/producer working for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He started as a cub reporter for newspapers in London, England in 1988. Then in 1991 he moved to Oregon and started freelancing. His work has appeared in publications as varied as The Oregonian, the BBC, the Salem Statesman Journal, Willamette Week, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR and the Voice of America. Kristian has won awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. He was embedded with the Oregon National Guard in Iraq in 2004 and now specializes in business, law, health and politics.