08 September 2017

Fire in the west

While the southeastern US is under siege by hurricanes, the west coast has its own problem -- massive fires.  One, the Eagle Creek fire, is raging just a few dozen miles east of the Portland metro area where I live.

The wide Columbia river forms the western part of the Washington-Oregon state line.  Especially on the southern (Oregon) side of the river, the terrain is massive hills covered thickly with forest, rugged and not easily accessible (Multnomah Falls, a waterfall tumbling down a 600-foot cliff just east of Portland, is worth a visit if you're in the area).  Interstate 84, the main link between Portland and points east, runs along the southern bank of the river.

The fire started Saturday, apparently as a result of teenagers playing with fireworks on a hiking trail.  Since then it has burned over 33,000 acres and jumped across the river to the Washington side.  This video (found via The Oregonian, the local paper) shows the expansion:

I live in the western part of Portland, but even here, on Tuesday, there was a fine white ash drifting down and the air was smoky -- it looked like fog, but the smoky smell was obvious.  At least over the last few days the summer heat has abated and it has been overcast -- but the cloud cover looks "dirty", probably due to smoke.  There's some chance of rain in the next few days, but not much -- this area is known for its rain, but it usually stops in late June and doesn't resume until autumn.

Here are a couple of videos of what the affected area looks like:



Interstate 84 has been closed, and there are hundreds of burned trees likely to fall across it even when the fire is over.  Firefighters have made some progress in containing it, but as the videos show, the terrain is not hospitable to conventional firefighting methods.

As with the recent hurricanes, global warming is likely a contributing factor.  Both this summer and last, our area had several days of heat that broke local records.  Millions of dried-out or dead trees helped the fire spread quickly.  Beyond Oregon, there are major forest fires raging in areas from British Columbia to southern California, exacerbated by excessive summer heat and, in some areas, drought.

It's been estimated that hurricane Harvey dumped a trillion gallons of water on Houston.  We'd gladly take overy drop of it off their hands.  Unfortunately things don't work that way.

[Image at top:  fire near the Bonneville dam on the Columbia river]

2 Comments:

Blogger W. Hackwhacker said...

I was just in Alberta and Glacier Park, Montana, and can attest to the damage being done in that part of the continent. We were lucky to see Glacier and Lake McDonald a few days before they closed parts of the area. Even in Calgary, coming out of the airport there was an aromatic odor that we realized was smoke coming over the mountains from BC. Managed fires are one thing, but when you get the kind that are the result of stupidity that endanger so many lives and so many pristine acres, that's a tragedy.

Hope you remain safe and get some relief soon, Infidel.

08 September, 2017 07:25  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

The last 4+ minute video is incredible (I put it on full screen). I been keeping up with the fires out there too, it has got quite a bit of mainstream coverage ... but again, hardly anyone is pointing out the global warming factor. Like the floods, the fires are getting massive too, west coast states are known for being vulnerable to fires, and like you said, being hard to get to for firefighters in many areas. Yes ... it actually is burning up right in the LA area ... and believe me ... when those large hill areas in LA get their forest burned out ... you can bet when the rains do come, there is going to be mudslide galore in LA too, nothing will hold the water. You need the rains because you have those desert dry areas to the east in LA ... which you also have desert areas in Oregon. I cant even understand why in Hell anyone would be using fireworx in areas like that? Even without fireworx when you get those dry spells (again, global warming lengthening and moving or slowing dry- wet spells) ... even a lightning strike can set off something big ... with more clouds and precipt due to warming ... means increased lightning too.

Multnomah Falls is real nice standing at the base of it, and how you can walk up in it ... has a nice little visitor store center too. I also noticed east of PDX coming into the city ... there are many small water falls coming off the mountains, I also noticed what looked like wild rams on the sides of mountains?

08 September, 2017 08:42  

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