Wildfires hurting air quality in Washington

Wildfires hurting air quality in Washington
The sun and nearby clouds of smoke turn a brilliant red where a wildfire burns Monday evening, Sept. 10, 2012, near Wenatchee, Wash. Crews in central Washington and Wyoming worked Monday to protect homes from two of the many wildfires burning throughout the West as a destructive fire season stretches into September with no relief expected from the weather anytime soon. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Wildfires were hurting air quality Monday in much of Washington, as forecasters issued a stagnant weather advisory to last at least through Wednesday afternoon.

Smoke from the blazes drifted west over the Cascade Range but had not yet settled close to the ground, the National Weather Service said. That could change by Tuesday, when some smoke is expected in the western foothills of the Cascades.

An inversion moved into the Wenatchee area east of the mountains on Sunday evening, holding smoke in the region where 1,700 people were fighting a complex of wildfires burning on about 51 square miles.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated as the fires were helped by unseasonably warm temperatures. The area is extremely dry, and conditions are right for rapid growth of existing fires and new fire starts, fire managers said.

All of the big fires in the state started during a Sept. 8 lightning storm. About 3,700 firefighters, including some from Canada, were battling the fires.

The Wenatchee complex of wildfires was about 17 percent contained. No homes had burned, but nearly 800 houses and other structures were threatened. The firefighting effort had so far cost an estimated $8.1 million.

A cluster of fires known as the Yakima complex continued to burn in Yakima and Kittitas counties, south and west of the Wenatchee complex. The Yakima complex covered 3,000 acres and was 20 percent contained. It had so far cost $4.1 million to fight.

Elsewhere on Monday:

— The Table Mountain complex in Kittitas County had burned 2,600 acres and was uncontained as it threatened 50 homes and structures.

— The Okanogan Complex in Okanogan County covered 4,231 acres, was 15 percent contained and threatened 64 homes and structures.

— The Cascade Creek Fire in Klickitat County covered 6,467 acres, was 4 percent contained and threatened 16 homes and structures.

The National Weather Service has issued the stagnant weather advisory for the Eastern Washington towns: of Clarkston, Wenatchee, Chelan, Entiat, Cashmere, Waterville, Ellensburg, Sunnyside, Toppenish and Yakima.