Wildfires growing quickly; air quality continues to decline

Location of Norse Peak and other nearby wildfires as of noon on September 6 (click to enlarge)

The Norse Peak Fire east of Mount Rainier National Park continues to grow quickly, with flames now starting to make their way into far southeast King County. Nearly 45,000 acres have burned, more than double since Monday, September 4. The western edge of the fire continues to threaten the areas near Crystal Mountain, Pick Handle Basin, Alta, and Gold Hill. A mandatory evacuation is in effect for these areas. More information about the Norse Peak Fire is available on their Facebook page.

Firefighters are also on scene at a new blaze, the Sawmill Creek Fire, located in the Green River watershed of King County. At present, flames have burned about 800 acres, mostly in industrial timber land. A Facebook page is also available for the Sawmill Creek Fire. A map of all the wildfires currently burning in the Pacific Northwest is available from the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

Many roads in the wildfire zones are closed. State Route 410 is closed from State Route 123 to Bumping River Road through at least Saturday, September 9. The White River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park is closed, as is the Pacific Coast Trail from Chinook Pass to Snoqualmie Pass.

The Enumclaw Expo Center is available to shelter livestock from evacuated areas. The Expo Center is open from 7:30am to 5pm. Call 360-226-3493 to confirm availability of space, or for other questions. Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) is on standby to assist residents evacuating with large animals.

Air Quality map for King County region as of noon on September 6 (click to enlarge)

Smoke from wildfires also continues to blanket the region. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency now rates air quality as Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups across the western half of King County, and Unhealthy for All in eastern King County in the Cascade foothills. Public Health – Seattle & King County has tips and information for individuals who are sensitive to the smoke.

A burn ban issued by the King County Fire Marshal continues in effect for unincorporated areas of King County. There is also a statewide burn ban in place from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

King County Emergency Management will continue to monitor the wildfire situation, and provide updates as conditions warrant.