One side of the nation is flooded and wracked by hurricanes with more storms to come, and the other end burns as hot ash rains down on everything. The list of fires and floods continues to grow, and it doesn’t look like either catastrophe is set to pass anytime soon. We at Liberty Nation have already extensively covered Hurricane Harvey and have been following Irma, potentially the worst hurricane on record and currently headed for Miami, Florida. But with the devastation Harvey brought to Texas, there hasn’t been much coverage on the fires raging through California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
These fires are ravaging those states – some larger than any others ever recorded – and have been for weeks. Thousands of people have evacuated. Homes and businesses are destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned. National Parks are on fire, and precious historical monuments have been lost. And the majority of these fires are not even halfway contained. Below are a list and a brief description of just some of the worst.
The state of California has 23 large wildfires currently burning.
Helena Fire, near the town of Helena, has burned 11,013 acres. So far, 133 structures have been destroyed, including 72 residences, 61 outbuildings, and eight other structures. This fire is only 14% contained.
South Fork Fire rages in Yosemite National Park, about a three-fourths of a mile from the community of Wawona. It has burned 6,800 acres, but fire crews are getting a handle on it despite several other fires in the area. This fire is currently 47% contained.
La Tuna Fire – Los Angeles. The largest ever in the area, it has consumed more than 7,000 acres since September 1. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations were sent to 300 homes in Burbank, 180 in Los Angeles, and 250 in Glendale. The unseasonably hot weather has made it even more challenging and uncomfortable. San Francisco hit 106 degrees on Friday, and the usually mild Los Angeles reached 100 degrees.
Eagle Creek Fire. This fire has Oregonians and Washingtonians grieving, as the beloved and well-hiked Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is destroyed. A 15-year-old boy is suspected of starting the fire by lobbing fireworks into a ravine. More than 140 hikers were stranded on Saturday, but were rescued Sunday morning. More than 30,000 acres have burned, and the fire is 0% contained. Hundreds of people have fled the area so far, and ash continued to rain down on Portland and surrounding areas until Wednesday. The watershed, which supplies water to one out of every five Oregonians, is at risk.
Chetco Bar Fire is the largest burning fire in the state, having consumed approximately 176,700 acres so far. Located near Brookings, the fire is only 10% contained, and several towns have been evacuated. Lightning is to blame.
As of Tuesday, there were approximately 23 active fires in the state. The unseasonably hot weather has not helped, with Portland reaching record-breaking highs in the triple digits over the Labor Day weekend.
There are at least two dozen wildfires turning the Montana skies hazy. One of the most worrisome, at least for tourists, is currently rampaging through Glacier National Park.
Sprague fire has already destroyed the Sperry Chalet, a historic building used for visitors traveling by horseback before there were any roads. Over the holiday weekend, the fire chased tourists away from the main park entrance as evacuations were put into place.
With 90% of the state suffering from a severe drought, these fires are even more dangerous. This has been the worst fire season in five years, costing $192 million so far in damages with more than 1,273 miles burned.
Diamond Creek fire burns along the Washington/Canadian border. It has devastated approximately 90,000 acres in the state and 15,000 acres in Canada. Roaring through the forest, it entered the northern end of Deception Pass, one of the most visited national parks. The popular camping and hiking area has ten islands, a tall bridge with an exhilarating view, and fascinating aquatic scenes where fresh and salt water meet and swirls together. This fire is 65% contained.
Norse Peak fire has destroyed 45,433 acres so far. This fire is located near the famous Mount Rainier and has already burned parts of the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. Level 3 “go now” evacuations were put in action as the blaze neared homes and structures. This fire is only 8% contained.
Jolly Mountain fire is located in Eastern Washington near the town of Cle Elum. It has burned nearly 21,000 acres and is 0% contained.
The Seattle area has seen record high temperatures over the past few days. Thick smoke blankets the area, turning the sun and moon to an eerie blood red hue while ash floats down like snow (witnessed first-hand) coating cars, roads and anything else unfortunate enough to be outside.
The fires racing across multiple states are devastating. Hundreds of thousands of acres are already lost, with much more to be destroyed as the blazes continue. Air quality is at dangerous levels throughout the region. Continued record high temperatures add to the issue, making it more difficult for firefighters and first responders to do their jobs, and more dangerous and uncomfortable for residents likely locked inside their (mostly) un-air-conditioned homes, trying to avoid the choking air. Whether it’s the floods and damage from hurricanes or the wildfires, the nation struggles, clenched in the grip of catastrophe.