Washington state’s Nakia Creek Fire quickly expanded to 2,000 acres on Sunday, forcing mandatory evacuation orders for more than 2,900 residences.
Tens of thousands of people in Clark County are threatened by a fire that started in the Larch Block of Yacolt Burn State Forest on October 9. On October 12, the fire was estimated to cover 156 acres, although it has since grown significantly.
The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency reported that the fire was only 5% contained due to the wind on Sunday night. According to a statement released by the public safety office, the fire is burning on “very steep” terrain.
Nakia Creek Fire erupted on October 9 atop Larch Mountain in Clark County, near the Oregon border. It slowly burnt across the Yacolt Burn State Forest’s steep, rocky terrain.
Earlier in the week, firefighters said they were making good headway fighting the fire, but the weather turned bad, and winds fanned the flames as they ripped through dry timber, brush, and grass. There was a 5% containment of the Nakia Creek Fire as of Sunday night.
More people were told to evacuate their houses as the fire erupted in extremely steep terrain and was noticed further away.
As of Sunday night, about 3,000 residents had been ordered to evacuate, and thousands more had been instructed to prepare to leave.
As a result of the unseasonable heat and dry easterly winds, a red flag warning has been issued for the area through Sunday.
Clark County officials noted that fire season is typically done for the area by the end of October, but this year’s fire season has stretched for months.
Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency said in a statement, “Firefighters are preparing direct control lines around the flanks of the fire.”
“Fires have been noted to be smoldering and crawling, with occasional torching and localized spotting. Even while containment lines are being set up, the fire still has the potential to spread.”
Nearly 3,000 residences are under the Level 3 “go now” order, while 5,017 are under the Level 2 “be set” order, according to a tweet from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. 28,765 addresses have been issued a “be ready” Level 1 alert.
This wildfire has burned an estimated 2,000 acres, but officials claim that number is underestimated due to the heavy smoke.
According to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, officials are working on updating the fire area map tonight, but it is unlikely that any new information will be accessible before Monday morning.
Sunday’s fire was fueled in part by unseasonably warm and dry conditions. The temperature in Vancouver hit 86 degrees, smashing the previous daily record by four degrees. Temperatures in Portland reached the same level, breaking the record for a single day set in 2020 when the city reached 80 degrees.
According to the natural resources department, Washington state issued a mobilization order, allowing all firefighting organizations to contribute resources against the blaze. Only around 20% of the fire had been contained, and it was still growing.
On Sunday, authorities reported several other fires in the region, including blazes at Chelatchie Prairie and Sunset Campground in Clark County and a few in nearby Skamania County.
Despite the ongoing efforts to extinguish the fire, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford predicts that the next few days will see above-average temperatures and decreasing breezes.
Areas around the Nakia Fire are experiencing temperatures roughly ten degrees above normal; these abnormally high temperatures are expected to last until Thursday, when they will gradually cool to normal levels, with temperatures falling below normal during the weekend, as predicted by Shackelford. This weekend’s forecast calls for a good chance of rain, providing firefighters with some welcome relief.
In the Yacolt Burn State Forest, the Nakia Creek Fire has been burning for several days.