Strong winds and a hot weekend conspired with human negligence to set Washington state on fire, incinerating hundreds of thousands of acres in fires across the state, and sending smoke billowing over the Cascades to the Snoqualmie valley.
At least a dozen fires were burning across the state as of the morning of Sept. 8. Nearly all of them are human-caused, said state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Hilary Franz.
“Do everything you can to prevent new fires from starting. Avoid activities that could cause sparks,” she wrote in a tweet posted Sept. 7.
On that day alone, some 300,000 acres of Washington state land went up in flames. The small town of Malden in Eastern Washington was razed to the ground by one of these wildfires.
All state Department of Natural Resources lands were closed to recreational activities on Sept. 8. The closures will last until at least Sept. 11 to help prevent new fires from starting, and to aid in firefighting efforts.
The fires started over Labor Day weekend and are being driven by strong east winds, which are pushing smoke into Puget Sound. The Forest Service NW Twitter page states the hot, powerful dry winds are making for some of the worst fire conditions in a century.
Red flag warnings have been issued for most areas of the state, including King County. And air quality in the Snoqualmie Valley ranges from unhealthy to moderate. It’s unknown when the fires will be brought under control, but strong winds were expected to continue at least through Sept. 9.
As a result of the strong winds, firefighting aircraft were grounded at least temporarily in parts of the state.