Air quality warning issued in Clallam County as wildfires burn
Sep 18, 2023, 11:23 AM | Updated: 12:46 pm
(Photo from Olympic National Park)
Crews are monitoring several wildfires in the Olympic National Park, as the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office warned that the smoke from the fires is causing health issues as the Air Quality Index (AQI) drops.
Lightning strikes started seven fires on Aug. 28, but in the last 48 hours, the size and complexity of the fires increased dramatically, officials said, and fire managers are ordering additional resources to manage and support firefighters on the ground.
More wildfire news: SR 20 reopens as Sourdough, Blue Lake fires keep burning
According to the Peninsula Daily News, park officials said none of the fires are currently threatening people or property, so they’ll let them burn, adopting a confine and contain strategy.
The largest of the fires is the Delabarre Fire, which had burned approximately 1,500 acres as of Sunday night. Other fires included the Eagle Point Fire, which has burned 122 acres, the Hurricane Fire, the Diamond Mountain Fire, the Martins Lake Fire, the Low Divide Fire and the Mount Queets Fire.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook, telling the public not to call 911 about the smoke, as dispatched have been “flooded with calls.”
According to the U.S. Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program, the smoke is expected to clear Monday as cooler weather and light rain help control the blaze.
“Light smoke from the Olympic NP fires will move to the east today towards Hood Canal and Puget Sound, but air quality is expected to remain good in general with short periods of moderate air quality possible,” Janice Peterson, an air resource advisor, wrote in an update.
The Cowlitz Complex Fire, which started around the same time as the fires in the Olympic Peninsula, is currently 34% contained and has burned 695 acres in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Another fire in Capitol Forest has burned around 50 acres, as the West Thurston County Fire Department works with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to control the fire.