SEATTLE - Wildfire smoke blankets the West Coast as many firefighter crews continue to extinguish and monitor many fires in eastern and western Washington.
East Pierce Fire officials said on Monday the Sumner Grade Fire is 85% contained. The wildfire over the past several days spread across and burned 494 acres over the past week.
Approximately 8 buildings and one vehicle were lost in the wildfire over the past week. Officials said on Sunday that Myers Road will remain closed to "local access" only.
In the Sumner-Bonney Lake area, the Sumner Grade Fire forced a major highway, SR 410, to stay closed through the weekend. In a statement on Monday evening, officials said the two-mile section of SR 410 from Sumner to Bonney Lake will reopen on September 15 after closing for a week due to the persistent wildfire near the highway.
Over the last several days, WSDOT crews replaced 120 guardrail posts and sections of guardrails on both sides of the highway that were badly burned in the wildfire. Crews will continue to monitor the road in the following week with some additional improvements.
“This level of fire damage is rarely seen in this area of the state,” said Assistant Regional Administrator for Maintenance Troy Cowan in a statement. “We extend our sincere gratitude for firefighters and other public service agencies for their tireless work on the Sumner Grade Fire. And, I’m proud of our crews for giving it their “all” to get this roadway reopened.”
Residents in the Sumner area were allowed to return to their homes this weekend following a phased evacuation re-entry. On Sunday, Bonney Lake officials downgraded all evacuation areas in the city to level 1 status as crews continue inspecting hillsides off of SR 410.
In Okanagan County, just under 300 firefighting crew members were able to contain the Cold Springs Canyon Fire by 60% by Monday. The fire spread through 188,852 acres in the area. The Columbia River Road remains closed as a precautionary.
Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team officials say crews continue to assist power companies in parts of the county with burned trees near power lines.
In Chelan County, the Apple Acres Fire burned through just over 5,700 acres and is now 97% contained. The Pearl Hill Fire, near Bridgeport, spread through 223,730 acres of land and remains 87% contained on Monday, according to NWIMT.
NWIMT officials credited winds from the south pushing wildfire smoke from Oregon fires helping extinguish local wildfires near the Cascade Mountains up north this weekend. Thick smoke in eastern Washington helped shade the fire, allowing crews to establish a containment line around the Pearl Hill Fire.
Evacuation Level 2 remains for north of Hwy 2 and in McNeil Canyon, and rescinded evacuation orders in other areas. Officials say Highway 173, Bridgeport Hill Road, and Crane Orchard Road
have been reopened.
“The thick smoke layer kept temperatures cool and humidities higher, allowing our firefighters time to complete critical containment lines," said Division Zulu Supervisor Jeremy Delack in a release.
Q13 Meteorologist Grace Lim says an Air Quality Alert, originally set until Monday morning, has been extended for Washington state until noon on Thursday. Condition on Monday remains at 'unhealthy' and 'very unhealthy' levels.
The Washington State Department of Ecology shows the majority of the state had 'very unhealthy' and 'hazardous' air quality due to wildfire smoke this weekend.
Thurston County officials ask people to take extra precautions with the poor air quality: limit time outdoors, keep windows and doors shut, use a HEPA filter indoors for ventilation systems, and place any air conditioner units on 'recirculation' mode.
In southwest Washington, The Big Hollow Fire near Carson and Cougar, Washington, officials say the fire is only 10% contained as it has burned through roughly 20,000 acres by Monday.
Areas north and west of the fire--near Yale and Cougar, Wash.-- are under level 1 evacuation notices. Many recreational areas will remain closed near the Gifford Pinchot National Forest as a precaution due to the fire and smoky conditions.
When enjoying the outdoors, national parks service officials ask to take preventative measures, such as fully extinguishing any cigarette butts then throwing them away. Gifford Pinchot National Forest says 85% of wildfires in the U.S. start due to human-causes, such as negligently discarding cigarettes, unattended campfires, and burning debris.