'Unprecendented' conditions at Table Mountain, Wenatchee wildfires

Print
Email
|

by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 7:13 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 7:18 AM

Firefighters said Thursday that conditions at the Table Mountain and Wenatchee Complex wildfires were unprecedented, calling it a "perfect storm" for explosive fire growth.

Overnight, the wildfires of the Table Mountain Complex grew from 9,500 acres to 30,000 acres. The fire is burning north of Ellensburg, marked by huge columns of smoke rising as high as 40,000 feet in the air. It is just four percent contained.

Only a few miles away, more than a dozen wildfires in the Wenatchee Complex have scorched 40,000 acres of land from Wenatchee to Entiat. It is 22 percent contained.

"We are in unprecedented weather conditions for the 20th of September," said incident commander Rex Reed. "It's something in my career that started in 1974 I've never experienced in the month of September."

The "perfect storm" of weather includes temperatures in the 80s and 90s, humidity in the single digits, and winds pointing toward combustible fuels.

Approximately 600 homes are under some form of evacuation notice. Click here to see the list of evacuations for Table Mountain and Wenatchee

(Click image to see the full map)

Click image to see full map

The Table Mountain Complex is burning in dry, dead timber, putting off the towering smoke plumes. Meteorologist Dan Byrd and fire behaviorist Don Strand are studying the plumes, watching for rapid cooling, which could cause them to collapse in the unstable atmosphere.

"It's like a thunderstorm," said Strand. "When it does that it creates its own environment...you can't get close to it."

The weather forecast does not improve in the coming days, according to Byrd -- temperatures will remain high and humidity will remain low, with no significant rainfall. There is also a possibility of dry lightning over the weekend. Learn how a smoke column can create its own lightning.

There are air quality and health concerns for residents. People are asked to stay indoors and limit physical activity.

Central Washington University moved its Saturday football game against Azusa Pacific University from Ellensburg to Bothell, in what would have been the school's home opener. A Friday night high school game between Wenatchee and Eastmont also was moved to Moses Lake.

The Red Cross has re-activated the emergency shelter in Wenatchee at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on the corner of 5th and Western.

An emergency animal shelter has been opened at the Chelan County Fairgrounds for large domestic animals. Small animals may be sheltered at the Countryside Veterinary Clinic, 405 Ohme Road.

Resources

Table Mountain Complex updates

Wenatchee Complex updates

Twitter

@WenatcheeWAFire
@inciweb
@waDNR_fire
@FireInfoGirl

Facebook

Chelan Co. Emergency Management
Wenatchee Complex Fire

KING 5's Lindsay Chamberlain compiled this report.

Print
Email
|