As of Thursday, more than two dozen named fires are burning in Oregon and Washington, most of which run like vertebrae up the Cascade Mountain Range from northern California to southern Canada. The biggest fires are pushing thick smoke into the Portland, Seattle, Bend and Brookings areas.
The Indian Creek Fire has been burning hundreds of acres north of Lost Lake since early July, but on Sept. 2 the Eagle Creek Fire sparked near the town of Cascade Locks and quickly surpassed the smaller blaze. As of Thursday, the Indian Creek and Eagle Creek fires combined and were burning about 33,000 acres along some of the most popular trails and waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge and in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It was considered to be about 5 percent contained Thursday morning and a change in winds was pushing the fires east toward Cascade Locks and Hood River.
Overnight Monday at the end of the Labor Day weekend, the fire jumped the Columbia River and sparked on the Washington side of the river. That new blaze has been named the Archer Mountain Fire. On Wednesday, it was burning a little more than 100 acres in Washington state.
The Eagle Creek Fire is the main culprit of unhealthy air quality and ash in the Portland area.
On Tuesday, residents in the Portland metro area awoke to an unsettling scene of ash blanketing the ground. Air quality has repeatedly diminished to unhealthy ratings as winds push smoke west from the gorge. Winds shifted Wednesday to blow east through the Gorge, leaving Portland with less smoke and ash. Air quality was still rated unhealthy Wednesday in the Portland area but was starting to clear by Thursday as rain ended.
Nine named fires surround Medford in Southern Oregon. The largest is the Chetco Bar Fire, burning more than 176,000 acres as of Wednesday near Brookings. The fire was so significant that at one point in August it was determined to be the highest priority wildfire in the country. It led to the relocation of season-opening high school football games in areas with unhealthy air conditions.
The Umpqua North Complex Fire is also burning near Roseburg, taking up more than 31,000 acres.
Central Oregon has recently experienced some of the poorest air quality conditions in the country, mainly from the Milli Fire raging near Sisters. The fire started on Aug. 11 and at 24,000 acres continues to choke Sisters, Bend and Redmond.
In all, more than a dozen named fires are burning in the Willamette National Forest.
The East Crater Fire in Gifford Pinchot National Forest was burning around 1,000 acres Wednesday in Southwest Washington. It started Sunday about 12 miles west of Trout Lake.
Ash also fell across the Seattle metro area, from the Norse Peak wildfire in the Okanogan / Wenatchee National Forest and the Jolly Mountain Fire near Cle Elum.