A wildfire in Washington state near the Oregon border was raging Sunday night, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of homes amid record-breaking heat.
The Nakia Creek Fire broke containment lines as it rapidly spread to about three square miles while burning through a terrain of timber and brush, said Ryan Rodruck, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency’s map put between 35,000 and 40,000 homes in the evacuation zone by Sunday night, according to local reports, but the total number of evacuations was unclear.
The blaze in eastern Clark County – near Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon – was being fueled by gusty winds and low humidity. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for wind and low humidity throughout the metropolitan area.
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“The fire’s really dynamic. It’s smoky and it’s spreading mainly to the southwest,” Sharon Steriti of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources told USA TODAY. “Hopefully, we’ll have a better idea tomorrow as the weather changes but winds are predicted to be erratic.”
Unseasonably warm and dry weather further powered the fire on Sunday. Vancouver reached 86 degrees, breaking a 64-year-old daily record by four degrees, according to the weather service. Portland hit the same temperature, surpassing the previous daily high of 80 in 2020.
Washington state issued a mobilization order that opened all firefighting agencies to provide resources against the blaze, according to the natural resources department. The fire was about 20% contained but with growth potential, according to InciWeb.
The blaze began Oct. 9 and was determined to be a human-caused fire. About 100 personnel, supported by water-dropping helicopters, were battling the fire and firefighters had been making “good progress” on Saturday, according to InciWeb.
Contributing: The Associated Press