66 large fires burn in the United States: Washington state evacuates thousands
Ramsey Crossing, California firefighters tackle the September 15 Mosquito Blaze. California’s largest fire this year has burned nearly 76,800 acres and has been active for 39 days, but is now 95% contained. Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images
Authorities in Washington ordered the evacuation of thousands of homes as a wind-driven wildfire near the border with Canada grew rapidly on Sunday.
The big picture: There is an unusually high number of wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Canada as much of the western United States faces “temperatures above normal and minimal relative humidity,” according to the National Inter Agency Fire Center.
- The Nakia Creek fire in Washington, near the borders with Canada and Oregon, which prompted Sunday’s evacuation orders, is one of 66 major fires in the United States, according to the NIFC.
Enlarge: Smoke from that Washington wildfire in eastern Clark County that razed some 2,000 acres was “visible throughout the metropolitan area that Vancouver shares with Portland, Oregon,” AP notes.
Zoom out: 24 large fires were burning in Idaho, 22 in Montana, 13 in Washington and five in Oregon as of Sunday, according to NIFC data.
- California and South Dakota each reported a large fire.
The context: Scientific research shows that climate change is a key driver of wildfire risk.
What we are looking at: “An upper ridge indicative of abnormal heat will move into the northwest over the next few days, in stark contrast to the cold across the eastern two-thirds of the country,” according to a National Weather Service outlook update Sunday evening.
- “Highs in the 70s and 80s in the Pacific Northwest will be 15 to 25 degrees above average and could reach record highs through mid-week,” the NWS added.
Editor’s Note: This is a topical article. Please check for updates.