Wildfire crews in southern Washington have been working since Sunday to contain the blaze that has scorched over 530 acres and claimed 10 homes. Two days after it was first reported near Underwood, a small community in Skamania County, Washington, on the state’s border with Oregon, the fire was only 5% contained as of Tuesday morning.
On Sunday, hot and windy conditions aided the fire’s progress through a hillside town that looks out over State Route 14 and the Columbia River, which separates Washington and Oregon. On Monday morning, residents within a two-mile radius of the blaze, now known as the Tunnel Five Fire, were ordered to evacuate.
As of Tuesday morning, officials stated there were no reports of injuries or missing people in connection with the incident. Through Wednesday night, the National Weather Service in Portland issued a red flag warning for the area that includes the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the northwest of the Tunnel Five Fire.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Firefighters in southwestern Washington were working on Tuesday to extinguish a wildfire that has destroyed 10 homes and burned more than 530 acres since it broke out on Sunday, the authorities said.https://t.co/WO9z5E0onS
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 4, 2023
The fire’s origin is currently being probed by authorities. According to The Seattle Times, unlike California, Washington State did not experience a particularly active wildfire season in 2020 or 2021. Officials were concerned that the dry weather would make the fire season, which begins in June and ends in September, busier than usual this year.
On Tuesday, officials predicted that winds would shift, bringing smoke from the Tunnel Five Fire westward toward Portland, Oregon. The Northwest Interagency communication Center, which monitors wildfires and supports communication between agencies in Oregon and Washington, estimates that 250 residences were in danger from the blaze.
Officials reported that the county fairgrounds would serve as an emergency shelter for evacuees and that people of the county to the east of the fire should be ready to leave their homes if necessary. Authorities responded with five teams, thirty-one fire trucks, one hundred and ninety-nine first responders, and many aircraft.
Authorities reported that firefighting aircraft were using water from a nearby river to douse the flames. The officials indicated that more assistance, including heavy machinery and additional fire engines, would arrive on Tuesday.
The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office urged locals to “carefully consider” their usage of pyrotechnics and “do everything possible” to prevent the development of additional fires.
“This is not the way we expected to spend July 4th, especially for those who had to leave their homes or are still worried about having to evacuate,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Here are some additional links from the California Examiner if you’re interested:
- Glendale Couple’s Home Reduced to Ashes by Illegal Firework
- A Muddy Body of a Missing Massachusetts Woman is Discovered in a Park
According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, White Salmon, a city about two miles east of the Tunnel Five Fire, is the closest major population center. The United States Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,505 permanent residents.
White Salmon, Oregon’s neighbor Hood River, Oregon, had to cancel its 4th of July fireworks celebration due to the blaze. The lead pyrotechnician for the firework show, who was not named, released a statement saying the community’s attention should be on the wildfire.
“This is a community event,” the statement read, “and it will not feel the same to celebrate while such a large part of our community is actively undergoing loss.”
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