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Ash falls like snow in Seattle as wildfires rage in Pacific Northwest

  • Author: Evan Bush, The Seattle Times
  • Updated: September 5, 2017
  • Published September 5, 2017

SEATTLE — Ash fell like snow in Seattle on Tuesday morning as Washington's wildfires sent plumes of smoke into the atmosphere.

It was so thick that dispatchers serving Eastside Fire Rescue received concerned calls about smoke in the area and ash settling on cars.

"There is no local fire," reported the firefighters. "If you do see flames, please report it to 911 and crews will check it out."

Haze covered the state from corner to corner, satellite images showed.

Smoke from the wildfires could be seen stretching across much of the United States, according to NASA satellite images.

In the Seattle area, Tuesday will likely see record-breaking heat, said Art Gaebel, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Highs were expected to rise into the 90s, he said, though "it's kind of tricky to forecast highs with the smoke in the area."

The record for this day at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is 88 degrees, Gaebel said.

Insulated by clouds of smoke, overnight temperatures never dipped below 71 degrees at Sea-Tac, making for an uncomfortable night for the 85 percent of Seattleites without air conditioning.

A cool breeze is coming.

"This is the last of the really hot days," Gaebel said, though tomorrow will be warm.

"We'll have a system coming through late Thursday night, kicking off some showers and bringing some temperatures down to where they should be this weekend," he said.

With fire danger high, Gov. Jay Inslee on Saturday declared a state of emergency for all of Washington.

The Norse Peak fire has burned more than 19,000 acres, with smoke from the fire prompting Crystal Mountain Ski Resort to close. By nighttime, Pierce County officials told many in the area to leave immediately. The ski resort Tuesday morning reported that none of its structures were damaged overnight.

The Eagle Creek Fire is now burning on both sides of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington and Oregon.

The fire spread Monday as afternoon and evening winds pushed flames west across the steep flanks of the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, causing mandatory evacuations that included the communities of Dodson, Warrendale, Latoruell and Bridal Veil. The fire closed Interstate 84 from milepost 17 outside of Portland to Exit 62 by Hood River, as well as railroad traffic on that side. It also burned close to the Bonneville Dam.

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