PORTLAND, Ore. — Smoke and ash from massive wildfires in the American West clouded the sky and led to air quality alerts Wednesday on parts of theas the effects of the blazes were felt 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) away. A haze hung over New York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Strong , Oregon, Montana, and other states to another side of the continent.
The nation’s largest wildfire, year, Seattle and Portland have been mainly spared the foul air., grew to 618 square miles (1,601 square kilometers) — just over half the size of Rhode Island. Fires also burned on both sides of California’s Sierra Nevada, Washington , and other areas of the West. The smoke blowing to the East Coast was reminiscent of last fall when large blazes burning in Oregon’s worst in recent memory choked the local sky with pea-soup smoke but also affected air quality several thousand miles away. So far this
People in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere with event that makes it so remarkable is that the smoke is affecting such a large swath of the U.S.,” said Jesse Berman, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of and an expert on air quality. “You’re not just seeing localized and perhaps upstate New York being affected, but rather you’re seeing numerous states all along the that are being impacted.”, asthma, and other health issues were told to avoid the outdoors. alerts for parts of the region were in place through Thursday. “One of the things about this
David Lawrence, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said wildfire smoke usually thins out by the time it reaches the East Coast, but this summer, it’s “still pretty thick.” In California, a crossed the state line into Nevada. New voluntary were issued for portions of Douglas County, Nevada. The Tamarack Fire, started by lightning in Alpine County, California, burned more than 68 square miles (176 square kilometers). more than 1,200 firefighters are battling the blaze, which has destroyed at least ten structures.
Meanwhile, Oregon on Wednesday banned all campfires on state-managed lands and in state campgrounds east of Interstate 5, the major highway commonly considered the dividing line between the wet western part of the state and the dry eastern half. The regulation includes thefire rings at campsites, candles, and tiki torches. Propane grills are still allowed, but the campers to pack food that doesn’t require heating or cooking. The lightning-caused Oregon fire has ravaged the sparsely populated southern part of the state. It has been expanding by up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) a day, pushed by gusting winds and critically dry weather that’s turned trees and undergrowth into a tinderbox.
Fire crews have had to retreat from the flames for tenas fireballs jump from treetop to treetop, trees explode, embers fly ahead of the fire to start new blazes, and, in some cases, the inferno’s heat creates its weather of shifting winds and dry lightning. Monstrous clouds of smoke and ash have risen to 6 miles (10 kilometers) into the sky and are visible for more than 100 air miles (161 kilometers). Authorities in Oregon said lower winds and temperatures allowed , and they hoped to make more progress Wednesday. The an old burn area on its active southeastern flank, raising hopes it would not spread as much.
The blaze, which more than 2,200 people are fighting, is about one-third contained. It was within a few hundred acres of becoming Oregon’s third-largest wildfire in modern history. At least 2,000 homes were evacuated at some point during the fire, and an additional 5,000 were threatened. At least 70 , but no one is known to have died. Arid conditions and recent heatwaves tied to . has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
While Berman is hopeful that the smoke will last only a few days, he said we might see more of it due to. “We fully expect that you’re going to see more situations where smoke, from fires occurring farther away, is going to in other parts of the country,” Berman said. “I would not be surprised if these events did become more frequent in the future.” Associated Press video journalists Haven Daley in Minden, Nevada, and David Martin in New York City contributed to this . Follow Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus.