Washington and Oregon Declare Fire Emergencies, Overwhelmed by 20+ Blazes
Both Washington and Oregon have declared a state of fire emergency as firefighters battle a total of 20 blazes ranging from a few hundred acres to 576 square miles.
The Buzzard Complex of fires in Oregon had scorched 368,961 acres as of July 19, and the Carlton Complex, a cluster of four fires in Washington State’s north-central Methow Valley, had burned more than 215,000 acres, or 335 square miles, since being sparked by lightning on July 14.
The second blaze has destroyed more than 100 structures, including dozens of homes, and prompted 300-500 evacuations, including a Red Cross shelter, InciWeb reported. More than 625 personnel are battling the blaze, but it is not enough.
"We don't have anything available anymore," Northwest Interagency Coordination Center spokeswoman Carol Connolly told the Oregonian on July 18. "We're out of hot shot crews, we're out of initial attack crews, we're at a drawdown for incident management teams. We're bringing in incident management teams from out of the region."
Fire officials reported having made “great progress” fighting the Buzzard Complex fires, according to an InciWeb update on July 19 at 11:22 p.m., as more than 1,211 personnel battled the blaze.
The Shaniko Butte Fire, on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in northeastern Oregon, has burned 18,000 acres, according to InciWeb.
Incident command crews have been arriving from Montana, Nevada and the Rocky Mountain region, Connolly told the Oregonian, which compiled a comprehensive roundup of the fires currently being fought. More than 6,000 firefighters are engaged in total, Connolly said.
The smoke plumes are visible from space, as this National Weather Service video shows.
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