Conditions ideal for wildfires in Northwest

Credit: AP Interactive

Conditions ideal for wildfires in Northwest


by KGW Staff

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Posted on July 10, 2014 at 8:46 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 11 at 12:25 PM

LYLE, Wash. -- As temperatures climb into the 90s, and even into the triple digits, firefighters gear up for a busy week.

Five large wildfires are currently burning in Washington.

The Mills Canyon Fire burning near Wenatchee has forced more than 100 homeowners to evacuate. Heavy smoke from the fire has shut down a 30-mile stretch of Highway 97. Nearly 400 firefighters are battling the blaze, which was sparked by a house fire and quickly spread.

More: Mills Canyon Fire 19 percent contained

“The fuel on the ground is ready to burn,” said Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

Connolly said conditions right now are drier than they normally would be this time of year and are ideal for wildfires. She expects this weekend things will only get worse.

Related: Prolonged heat wave warning issued for NW Ore., SW Wash.

"We’re coming into the hotter temperatures and so it’s a higher risk if there’s an ignition source for large fire on the ground,” explained Connolly.

Fire crews are most concerned about southern and central Oregon, but say even in the urban areas the danger is growing.

"Increasing grass fires, smoldering bark dust are definitely on the uptick and we expect those through next week,” said Lt. Chris Barney with Portland Fire & Rescue. 

In and around the Portland area there’s already been a number of smaller brush and grass fires this week.

Fire officials say all five fires burning in Washington right now were human caused

Their warning: when it comes to flames, big or small, we all need to be very careful.

“Discarded cigarette butts that may catch things on fire, anything that’s thrown out of a window of a car driving down the road,” said Barney.

And remember, in this kind of heat, all it will take is a spark.