Wildfires threaten homes, pollute air in Pacific Northwest

4,500 people have evacuated their homes in Oregon

The Chetco Bar Fire covers 98,000 acres, August 22, 2017 (Bureau of Land Management)
The Chetco Bar Fire covers 98,000 acres, August 22, 2017 (Bureau of Land Management)

CLE ELUM, Wash. (AP) — Wildfires were threatening thousands of homes and hindering travel in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday.

Authorities issued new evacuation notices overnight in a 23-square-mile (60-square-kilometer) fire about 80 miles southeast of Seattle. It’s put about 3,800 homes at risk, the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office said.

Elsewhere, crews were able to contain a fast-moving brushfire in the foothills of Boise, Idaho, and some people affected by a blaze on the southern Oregon coast were allowed to return home.

Dozens of wildfires across Oregon have forced the evacuation of more than 4,500 people. Many lightning-sparked fires are sending large plumes of smoke into the air, causing disruptions in holiday travel and shutting down camping areas.

Officials warned of unhealthy air quality for the city of Bend and the surrounding area due to two fires that merged in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area along the crest of the Cascade Mountains.

In Washington state, law enforcement went door to door with evacuation notices in communities near the city of Cle Elum, Seattle news station KOMO-TV reported.

The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office told people in the area that they should leave and warned others in the towns of Ronald and Roslyn and surrounding areas that they should be prepared to go because of the approaching fire.

A Red Cross shelter for those evacuating was set up at the Putnam Centennial Center in Cle Elum.