As of Tuesday, more than two dozen named fires are burning in Oregon and Washington, most of which run like vertebrae up the Cascade Mountain Range from northern California to southern Canada. The biggest fires are pushing thick smoke into the Portland, Seattle, Bend and Brookings areas.
The Indian Creek Fire has been burning hundreds of acres north of Lost Lake since early July, but on Sept. 2 the Eagle Creek Fire sparked near the town of Cascade Locks and quickly surpassed the smaller blaze. As of Tuesday, the Eagle Creek Fire was burning more than 10,000 acres along some of the most popular trails and waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge.
Overnight Monday at the end of the Labor Day weekend, the fire jumped the Columbia River and sparked on the Washington side of the river. The Eagle Creek Fire is the main culprit of unhealthy air quality and ash in the Portland area.
On Tuesday, residents in the Portland metro area awoke to an unsettling scene of ash blanketing the ground. Air quality has repeatedly diminished to unhealthy ratings as winds push smoke west from the gorge.
Nine named fires surround Medford in Southern Oregon. The largest is the Chetco Bar Fire, burning more than 160,000 acres near Brookings. The fire was so significant that at one point in August it was determined to be the highest priority wildfire in the country. It led to the relocation of season-opening high school football games in areas with unhealthy air conditions.
The Umpqua North Complex Fire is also burning near Roseburg, taking up more than 29,000 acres.
Central Oregon has recently experienced some of the poorest air quality conditions in the country, mainly from the Milli Fire raging near Sisters. The fire started on Aug. 11 and at 22,000 acres continues to choke Sisters, Bend and Redmond.
In all, more than a dozen named fires are burning in the Willamette National Forest.
The East Crater Fire in Gifford Pinchot National Forest was burning around 1,000 acres Tuesday in Southwest Washington. It started Sunday about 12 miles west of Trout Lake.
Ash also fell across the Seattle metro area, from the Norse Peak wildfire in the Okanogan / Wenatchee National Forest and the Jolly Mountain Fire near Cle Elum.