September 17, 2012 in Region

Inversion holds in smoke at central Wash. fires

NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press
 

SPOKANE — An inversion moved into the Wenatchee area Sunday evening, holding smoke in the region where 1,700 people are fighting a complex of wildfires burning on about 51 square miles.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated because of the fires that were helped by unseasonably warm temperatures. The area is extremely dry, and conditions are right for rapid growth on existing fires and new fire starts, fire managers said.

In Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, an air stagnation advisory that was issued on Sunday has been lifted. An intensifying system of higher air pressure will bring enough warm air to the eastern side of the Columbia Basin to allow smoke to rise into the atmosphere and minimize the concentration of pollutants.

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency reported air quality in the good range in Spokane this morning.

All of the big fires burning in Washington started during a Sept. 8 lightning storm. About 3,700 firefighters, comprising every available firefighter in the state and some from Canada, were battling the fires.

The Wenatchee complex of wildfires was about 17 percent contained, as of early this morning. No homes had burned, but nearly 800 houses and other structures were threatened. The firefighting effort had so far cost an estimated $8.1 million.

A cluster of fires known as the Yakima complex continued to burn in Yakima and Kittitas counties, south and west of the Wenatchee complex. The Yakima complex covered 1,150 acres, was 10 percent contained and threatened about 400 homes. It had so far cost $4.1 million to fight.

Also as of today:

— The Table Mountain complex in Kittitas County had burned 2,600 acres, was 0 percent contained and threatened 50 homes and structures.

— The Okanogan Complex in Okanogan County covered 4,231 acres, was 15 percent contained and threatened 64 homes and structures.

— The Cascade Creek fire in Klickitat County covered 6,467 acres, was 4 percent contained and threatened 16 homes and structures.

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