30 August 2015

34/52 - Fire on the Mountain

While we were traveling over the past several weeks, the wildfire season at home kicked into high gear. Just 3 days after we left, a lightning strike started the Cougar Creek fire. The fire started just south and east of the mountain, and the hot weather and dry conditions enabled it to spread quickly. It has been burning for about three weeks now and is over 54,000 acres. While the fire area is only about 12 miles from our house, it does not pose a direct danger for us. But depending on the wind conditions, the heavy smoke can settle in the Trout Lake valley, creating unhealthy air quality. All of that smoke means that we are unable to leave our windows open day or night, eliminating our primary cooling mechanism during the hot summer days.

Here is some great recent imagery of the fire area. This is a composite of IR and EO images taken by the Landsat 8 imaging satellite. You can see the current fire locations and the large burned-out areas where the fire started.

The risk of new fires is still extremely high. The state has shut down all motorized operations in forested areas of Klickitat County, including our property. No chainsaws, trucks, tractors, weed whackers, etc. That also means that all commercial logging is shutdown. It is the first time these restrictions have been in place in over 20 years.

It was dark when we flew home from our trip, and we planned our seats so that we could see the fire from the window. (Thanks, Southwest!) There are lots of good resources online to track the latest fire info, all of which we monitored regularly on our travels.

Live photo of Mt Adams, updated every few minutes.

Mt Adams Cam Facebook page. People post the most interesting photos from Mt Adams TV. There are some really cool photos of the fire, northern lights, etc.

Cougar Creek Facebook page. Fire, fire fighter pics and videos, plus the latest official fire summary from InciWeb.

Cougar Creek Inciweb. The official page with detailed info if you want to geek out on it.

Here's a great evening photo from the Mt Adams Cam showing the fire lighting the lenticular clouds.

All of the smoke in the air does make for pretty skies, though.

There are lots of other fires burning now, many larger than Cougar Creek. Cooler weather and some much needed rain arrived this weekend, though it will take extended periods of rain, lower temperatures, and mild winds to get all of these fires under control. But hopefully we are nearing the end of this year's fire season.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders