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Sep 14, 2012 12:12
Category: Announcer Blog

Wenatchee Fires

via Chelan County Emergency Management Facebook

via Oregonlive.com

via King5.com

"The smoke is our main concern.  It covers the whole area and is thick, making it hard to see and to breathe.  They say it’s considered hazardous and are telling people to stay indoors, in recycled air-conditioned air if at all possible.  Don’t let your kids or pets play outside.  They even closed the Cashmere schools half of Thursday and all day Friday.  Other schools have cancelled recess and soccer practices and such.  Schools are moving football games to other cities.  There was a marathon scheduled in town for the weekend, but they cancelled it.  Go outside minimal amounts only as necessary.  They’re even suggesting people head out of town if they can.

My almost-two-year-old son really wants to play outside, and it’s been difficult keeping him in.  How do you explain this to the little guys? 

There is ash everywhere.  You open your car door and you can see a cloud of ash fly up.  Or even in places you can see it as you walk through it.  It’s almost like having sea-salt in your hair at the beach, and it feels like dirt in your eyes.  I’m sure this can’t be good for our lungs! The whole town smells like campfires and we are all talking about how to get the smell out of our cars, houses, clothes when this is over. 

They say you can wear masks when outside to reduce the amount of smoke and ash you inhale, but they have to be a an N-95 I think in order to be strong enough to be of any use against this crud in the air. 

At night, the smoke settles down further into the valley and makes it seem like a dense fog.  Last night, I was out late, and it was difficult to drive in.  In the morning it lifts some, but you still can’t see the tops of buildings or trees.  By afternoon you might be able to see a patch or two of the supposedly "sunny and clear skies" on the weather forecasts.  One or two evenings the smoke has lifted and you can see huge flames engulfing trees on the hillside.  Quite pretty, but very intimidating. 

During the day you can look directly at the sun.  It’s clouded in smoke and is an interesting red color.  Almost like a harvest moon or like a lovely long sunset.

There are evacuations all over town.  Some are being upgraded, some downgraded, and some areas go back and forth depending on the winds.  There are barricades on many roads, some manned and some not.  This is taking place in several cities - Wenatchee, Cashmere, Entiat, even Chelan.  And of course there is the large fire at Grand Coulee.  Quincy, Moses Lake, Ephrata are all getting smoke from our fires and the Grand Coulee fire.

Governor Gregoire was in Wenatchee yesterday.  Both Chelan and Douglas counties have declared a state of emergency.  Gregoire activated the National Guard and we will have additional troops to help out and two additional helicopters.  There has been only one helicopter helping with this fire so far.  I’m hoping this means they will be able to contain the fires more quickly.  I’m hearing they hope to have the fires out by mid-week next week.

They are doing some back-burning today to try to keep it away from houses again.

Red Cross is set up on our campus to take in evacuees and also feed firefighters.  Our parking lot always has at least a few fire engines in it, and a news crew or two.  Our office is fairly close to the fire, so it almost seems to be part of the “staging” area. 

The town has been overwhelming with support. Local businesses are offering free services to evacuees and firefighters, and the Red Cross has accepted so many donations they are now asking people to donate to the local food banks instead.

One of my employees lives a few miles from the fire and says she can’t even see her neighbor’s house through the smoke.  Another of my employees walked into the office today wearing a mask proclaiming how nice it is to breathe!"

--Lianna Bergherm, Wenatchee Station Manager. 

Here is a list of road closures in the Wenatchee area as of 9/14/2012
http://www.co.chelan.wa.us/pw/data/road_restrictions_fire_9-14-2012.pdf

And a list of sites that are constantly updating information for you:

Wenatchee World
Chelan County Emergency Management