The Day Our Valley Went Gray – The Wenatchee Complex Fire

September 16, 2012 at 6:59 am Leave a comment

Photo take by DZ Photography

I left Wenatchee for Seattle yesterday and am now sitting in the dining room with bright sunshine coming in the large picture windows.  Oh how I’m enjoying this after so many days of burning eyes, sore throat, and a thick fog of smoke surrounding the Wenatchee valley.

Photo taken from KIMATV.com photo gallery

Last Saturday, September 8th, lightning struck several places around the valley causing around 50 fires.  Since the fires started mainly around Number 1 Canyon, the fire was named the Canyons Fire.  Because of the high winds, hot weather and dry conditions the fires escalated quite fast.

Photo posted on Facebook

Sun setting behind the Canyons Fire

And before we knew it, there were fires surrounding the valley.  As soon as one fire was contained another escalated and merged with another fire.  By Tuesday, Sept. 11th, the Canyons Fire merged with the Twin Peaks fire west of Wenatchee and now there were over 1000 acres burning.  Now the fire is named the Wenatchee Complex Fire.  Updates started coming in on evacuation notices.  For days everyone was on alert not knowing if they would have to evacuate their homes or not as the fires came closer and closer to the residential areas.  There was a Level 2 evacuation notice just up the road from where I was pet-sitting.

Photo taken by Landon Michaelson, bksecret.com

Thanks to the hard work of all the firefighters that converged in Wenatchee, as of now, there has been only one out-building destroyed and no one has been injured because of this fire.

Fire Fighters camp at Confluence Park

Photo from weather.com

Under a fog of heavy smoke, fire fighter crews get ready for a night of sleep.

Sign CMI employees placed on their office building overlooking Confluence Park

Finally the winds died down.  This helped the fires from spreading as fast but unfortunately it caused a new problem.  The entire Wenatchee Valley was covered in smoke.

Our beautiful Wenatchee Valley was now a smokey, ashy, unhealthy basin.  Health warnings started coming in.  Anyone with respiratory problems were to stay indoors.  After school sports programs were cancelled.  Even Cashmere school was released early because of the smoke pollution.  I was pet-sitting two very energetic dogs who need their exercise but I was worried not to run them too much because of the unhealthy air conditions.

Gus & Maggie

Smoke covered Wenatchee Valley

By Wednesday, Sept. 12th, 124 homes were under Level 3 Evacuation notice.  As the firefighters diligently worked on containing the fires, the smoke in the valley increasingly got worse and the air quality was in the “hazardous” zone.

Looking down the street in Wenatchee

The sun was an eery orange and red color.

And that’s when you could even see the sun through the haze.  At times the smoke was so heavy you couldn’t even get any sunlight at all.

Sun behind a cloud of smoke

As of now it sounds like the smoke is finally thinning out around Wenatchee a bit but is still at a dangerous level.  There are still several fires in the foothills and it seems like there’s no end in sight.  Like I said, I was able to leave the valley to get some fresh air and sunshine but many of my family members and friends are still there so I’m hoping that these terrible fires will soon be extinguished.

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