WHITE SALMON, Wash. - A wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge is now 50 percent contained but firefighters are bracing for changes in the weather that could create some problems.
A 1,600-acre wildfire is burning in timber, grass and dry brush along Highway 141 between White Salmon and Husum, Washington. VIEW MAP
KATU Meteorologist Joe Raineri has been tracking the weather and the forecast could make the job difficult for crews that are working the fire lines. The big concern is the winds that will be blowing through the area.
"Not only will they (the winds) be coming in pretty intense from the west, about 20 to 25 miles per hour, it's the gusts that will be playing a factor as well," Raineri said. "(They will be) anywhere between 40 to 45 miles per hour in some locations."
Some dry thunderstorms may move through the area as well, bringing with them the threat of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. FORECAST
"This weekend we will see dry fuels and high winds that give us two of the three elements that can start a catastrophic wildfire. The third element is the tiniest spark," Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said in a statement. "We are asking everyone to take extra care this weekend to avoid any risk of providing that spark."
On Saturday, firefighters met with community members to answer questions and give them the latest information on the wildfire. Residents of 49 homes were allowed to return, though they and other area residents are still on notice to be ready to leave if the fire grows. There are around 450 homes in the area.
Over 600 firefighters are working the wildfire. Here is the latest update on conditions along the fire lines (issued by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10 a.m.):
Fire behavior consisted of slow, backing fire consuming unburned fuel on the west side of the fire, between the fire perimeter and Highway 141. Significant smoke was apparent again late yesterday afternoon, the result of backing fire and unconsumed fuel burning within the fire perimeter. Increasingly gusty winds coming from the west were reported on the fire last night and will continue Sunday and Monday. Constructed fire lines held through the night and no fire growth occurred outside of containment lines. No structural damage, losses or injuries have been reported on this incident.