The Table Mountain Fire near Ellensburg is among hundreds ignited during a lightning storm on Sept. 8. This webpage is set up to share information about those fires and how they affect our community.
Updated Oct. 14, 8:15 AM - FINALLY!
|Local Air Quality|
Oct. 11, 2012
Kittitas County reduced the evacuation level in the Liberty area to Level 1, effective 5 pm today. This includes the town of Liberty, Liberty Road, Pine Gulch Road, Red Top Road, Williams Creek Road, Harkness Road, Cougar Gulch Road, Boulder Creek Road and Liberty Mountain Association.
The Liberty Road closure will remain in effect until further notice, with access restricted to local traffic and residents only.
Residents are encouraged to check out the interactive map on the Kittitas County website, http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us/, under the Table Mountain Fire response page, for a visual interpretation of these changes.
The prognosis for air quality Homecoming weekend is good! Yesterday I spoke with the State Smoke Guy whose job it is to forecast smoke. He said blustery rainy weather in western Washington should blow to the east and mix up the air. We may get a little rain at the Homecoming game. The National Weather Service backs up that weekend forecast.
If the weather is as wet and windy as expected, the life span of this web page will have come to an end and we will return you to the good care of your favorite news sources for weather and crisis news.
Oct. 8, 2012
In the Ellensburg area, about 290 firefighters are working on what's left of the Table Mountain fire, still "creeping and smoldering within the interior" of the fire boundaries. Current operations consist of mop-up around the fire lines and around structures. Personnel also are conducting rehabilitation work to stabilize burned-over areas to reduce the potential for erosion, eliminate fuel loads near the fireline, and minimize risks from burned snags.
In the Wenatchee area, a wind shift to the east yesterday exposed new fuels to fire and flames erupted in some areas. Firefighters conducted some small burn-outs to strengthen containment lines on the Peavine, Sears Creek and Cashmere Mountain Fires. On the Peavine Fire, a burnout along the 9712 Road on the eastern flank was tied into a large rock feature. Helicopters were then used to aerially ignite inward from the road to increase the depth of the containment line.
This web site will stay up for several more days, though the link on the home page may come down.
Oct. 6, 2012
Although smoke from the Table Mountain Fire continues to diminish, high pressure is keeping smoke from other fires in the area.
The national type-1 team is leaving town but there will be about 160 type 3 firefighters, patrolling the fire for hot spots, mopping up, and doing rehabilitation work.
This weekend Ellensburg drivers may experience more traffic than usual due to back-hauling of fire equipment and residents returning to their homes.
Burn Ban Extended:
Dept of Natural Resources has extended the statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands; the ban is in effect through October 15, 2012, and includes all forest lands in Washington, except for federal lands.
Evacuation notices lifted:
On Wednesday, level 1 & 2 notifications were removed for the US 97 corridor from the Lauderdale Junction to Mineral Springs, including the Liberty Cafe area on both sides of the highway.
The town of Liberty remains under a Level 2 evacuation notification, which restricts access to local traffic and residents only. This includes the town of Liberty, Liberty Road, Pine Gulch Road, Red Top Road, Williams Creek Road, Harkness Road, Cougar Gulch Road, Boulder Creek Road and the Liberty Mountain Association.
All Level 2 & 3 notifications have been removed for the southern foothills area (north of Ellensburg), including Elk Springs Rd., Upper Green Canyon Rd, Wilson Creek Rd., Reecer Creek Rd, and Robbins Rd. There are no evacuations in this area; however, road closures will remain in effect at the southern boundary line of the forest lands.
October 5, 2012
The annual Yakima River Cleanup is canceled due to unreliable air quality. CWU has been cancelling outdoor activities whenever the air quality gage hits "unhealthy," and that's where it was earlier today. Sorry Yakima River. See you next year!
Good news bad news. The fire command folks say that the fire is contained and no more back burning is planned. But we have a lovely high pressure system floating in to put a lid on our valley, so residual smoke will have no where to go and is likely to build and give us more smokey days.
The battalion of 1400 firefighters on Anderson Hay property will drop to about 160 people by Sunday. Their primary task, mopping up (stomping out and soaking hot spots) and rehabilitating some areas in order to prevent future flooding and slides. They'll be staying in CWU residence halls and local hotels.
The Table Mountain Fire is now 90-percent contained with full containment expected by tomorrow. Firefighters are mopping up and patrolling all areas of the fire.They'll continue felling hazard trees on the western flanks and back haul debris around structures. They'll also undertake rehabilitation of burned areas on the eastern side of fire, in order to reduce the risk of flooding and slides later this year. A helicopter equipped with infrared capability is flying over the fire to identify remaining pockets of heat near the fireline. It appears that "back burning" is over -- let's hope for good! That will greatly reduce the amount of smoke in the air.
Air quality isn't so great now, however. So women's soccer has been moved to: 1041 S 96th Ave Yakima, WA Cottonwood Elementary School.
Wednesday, Oct. 3
The Kittitas County Emergency Operations Center has reduced and removed evacuation levels and has coordinated the reopening of more state lands in the Table Mountain Fire area, effective 6pm today.
The Level 2 & 3 notifications have been removed for the southern foothills area (north of Ellensburg), including Elk Springs Road, Upper Green Canyon Road, Wilson Creek Road, Reecer Creek Road, Robbins Road. There are no evacuation restrictions in this area, however, road closures will remain in effect at the southern boundary line of the forest lands.
All residences in the Liberty area are now under a Level 2 evacuation notification, which restricts access to local traffic and residents only. This includes the town of Liberty, Liberty Road, Pine Gulch Road, Red Top Road, Williams Creek Road, Harkness Road, Cougar Gulch Road, Boulder Creek Road and Liberty Mountain Association.
Level 1 & 2 notifications have been removed for the US97 corridor from the Lauderdale junction to Mineral Springs, including the Liberty Café area, on both sides of the highway. There are no evacuation restrictions in this area.
Also effective at 6pm today, state lands have been reopened east of Coleman Canyon Road to the intersection of Naneum Ridge Road, including the areas of Coleman, Rue, Cooke, Four Corners, Jumpoff, Pole Flats and Stemilt Basin.
All state forest land west of Coleman Canyon Road remains closed until further notice, including the areas of Dawson, Schnebly, Boulder Creek, Swift Creek, Green Cabin and Naneum Basin. The purpose of this continued closure is to provide for firefighter safety for personnel still working on the fire lines.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest east of US97 to the Naneum State Forest also will remain closed.
Residents are encouraged to check out the interactive map on the Kittitas County website, http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us, under the Table Mountain Fire response page, for a visual interpretation of these evacuation and closure changes.
Tuesday, Oct. 2
Below please find remarkable footage documenting the fire suppression efforts at Table Mountain. This video was provided by the National Incident Team assigned to the Table Mountain Fire and shows the many techniques used to fight fire in difficult terrain.
Monday, Oct. 1
The Table Mountain Fire containment is at about 65%. Crews conducted aggressive burnout and mop-up efforts over the weekend. Today they'll wrap up four days of "firing operations," burning dry fuel before the wildfire can reach it. That means it's going to be another smokey day!
Firefighters are bracing themselves for very strong winds and declining humidity tonight into early Tuesday. Meteorologists predict winds gusting as high as 50 mph in the mountains.
CWU will host a community meeting on the Table Mountain wildfire tomorrow (Tuesday, October 2) at 6:30 p.m. in Student Union and Recreation Center room 202. Free parking will be available in university lots for those attending the meeting.
Sunday, Sept. 30
The Table Mountain Fire is about 45% contained and nearly 1500 personnel are engaged in the firefight.
Today the community is invited to tour the Incident Command Post set up at Anderson Hay between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Hunting season opened this weekend. Please be advised that Washington Department of Natural Resources reopened some state lands to the east of the Table Mountain Fire. This includes the Colockum, Quilomene and Whiskey Dick's Wildlife Areas. State lands in the Naneum State Forest west of the Colockum Pass Road remain closed due to fire hazards.
Travelers on US 97 should expect restricted access, closures, and delays from 970 to Wenatchee as conditions change, please check WSDOT website for current information: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ or call 511.
The aerial and ground firefighting work and the multi-day burn out that created so much smoke kept the fire from growing yesterday, even though wind, increased sun exposure, and drier fine fuels created optimal burning conditions. Crews are continuing to secure the burnout operations and with aerial and hand ignition on the western flank of the fire between Liberty and Liberty Mountain, east of US-97. On the north, south, and eastern flanks of the fire crews will concentrate their efforts on mopping up 100' feet from the fires edge, patrol, and burnout when necessary to secure fire lines.
Firefighters are preparing for wind during the next several days as a dry cold front moves through the area. No moisture is forecasted with the front and winds are expected to increase with gusts of up to 30 mph. Fire-weakened trees in combination with increased winds could pose a health and safety concern. Precautions will be taken to mitigate the risk to firefighters within these areas.
Saturday, Sept 29
Crews continue to strengthen lines with burnout operations, which may result in more smoke around the western side of the fire. The Forest Service has put a temporary air quality monitoring station in the community of Liberty.
Beginning at 9:00 AM, sections of Blewett Pass will be reduced to one-lane, pilot-controlled traffic from milepost 163 to milepost 166. Motorists can expect up to 30 minute delays.
Friday, Sept. 28
Air quality improved from "hazardous! in Eburg"
Following please see this morning's air quality forecast from the Washington State Dept. of Ecology
The air quality in Cle Elum and Cashmere registered as Hazardous this morning. While Wenatchee and Trout Lake came in as Very Unhealthy. Much cleaner, but still Unhealthy, Entiat.
Pateros and Quincy were in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. The past few days have had a good diurnal (daily) cycle of clearing in mid to late afternoon with increasing concentrations peaking just before sunrise.
Across Eastern Washington most locations are experiencing moderate to unhealthy for Sensitive Groups air quality. Only Colville, Wellpinit, and Dayton are in the Good air quality area.
Today expect the air quality to start out much the same as yesterday before a weakening cold front kicks up winds this evening. Over this weekend the mid-level winds will gradually increase and gradually work their way downward to begin to move the smoke out of the region. There is no precipitation in the forecast sufficient to affect the wildfires and smoke will continue to be an air quality problem into next week as the surface winds subside.
Air quality is in the "very unhealthy" range this morning.
Thick smoke closed Blewett Pass early this morning. US 97 is closed from milepost 150 at the junction with SR-970, to milepost 177, eight miles south of the junction with US 2, at the Big Y, Click here to see the WSDOT Blewett Pass camera and to monitor pass conditions.
Burn-out activities were conducted near the town of Liberty yesterday, which may have contributed to smokey conditions this morning. This weekend some cooler weather is expected to clear the air a little. Fire containment is estimated at 35% with full containment predicted by October 5. More than 1400 people are working on some aspect of the fire.
Thursday Sept. 27
Below please see a smoke forecast from the Dept of Ecology
9/27/12 Wildfire Smoke Forecast 0800 PDT
Air Quality forecast, 8AM Thursday 27 September 2012
Issued by Ranil Dhammapala, Washington State Dept. of Ecology
Wenatchee is back to recording Hazardous air this morning, as is Cashmere. Both these sites have been getting hammered by smoke in down slope winds with some afternoon clearing when the inversion breaks and upvalley winds kick in. Entiat and Pateros (both Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) also showed the same behavior yesterday. Leavenworth (Unhealthy), Twisp, Winthrop and Cle Elum (all Moderate) showed the opposite trend, increasing when upvalley winds during the day pushed smoke toward the monitors. Trout Lake and Ellensburg (both Unhealthy), Yakima, Toppenish (both Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups), White Swan and Goldendale (both Moderate) all saw an increase in PM2.5 levels when the inversion broke, but experienced some partial clearing later.
With the exception of Omak and Quincy, none of the other PM2.5 monitors east of the Cascades are recording Good air this morning (the two green dots on the map close to Spokane are CO and Ozone monitors). Little diurnal change in the Columbia Basin sites since yesterday, with a mixture of Moderate air to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. Some sites showed a very slight drop during the afternoon mixing, but a slight increase overall. Over the last two days, the Columbia Basin has behaved like a giant bathtub in steady state, where the water (smoke) entering is almost balanced by the amount leaving.
Light east winds have started in eastern WA and could still bring a little ID wildfire smoke to the Palouse area before Friday night. With strong nighttime inversions, above normal daytime temperatures and light winds, the largest smoke impacts are expected near the fires while the Basin will continue to behave like a bathtub in near-steady state. In general, expect some smoke impacts in the morning and nighttime, with some afternoon clearing in most places. The light east winds could push some smoke further up the foothills during the day.
Winds are expected to pick up a notch on Friday evening, and models suggest that gradual clearing in most areas is expected to continue through Saturday evening before calm, benign conditions return.
The National Weather Service issued an Air Quality Alert for all of eastern Washington:
The Governor has extended a burn ban on all outdoor burning in eastern Washington through midnight Sunday.
Ecology Air Quality Monitoring Network Map: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/Default.ltr.aspx
-note, click on the dots and you can then click on View more information to find out the latest hourly values even if the dot is grey
Wednesday, Sept. 26
High pressure is expected to move into central Washington by Thursday, trapping wildfire smoke in valleys. Air quality alerts are in effect for the area through the week.
The Kittitas County Emergency Operations Center reduced some evacuation levels and coordinated the reopening of some state lands in the Table Mountain Fire area, effective 12pm today.
The Level 3 notification has been downgraded to Level 2 for Elk Springs Road above the northern-most set of power lines, and the area encompassing Upper Green Canyon Road east to Wilson Creek Road between the northern-most set of power lines and the southern boundary line of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. These areas are accessible to local traffic and residents only.
Evacuation Level 3 remains in place for the areas within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest that are accessed by Upper Green Canyon Road, Reecer Creek Road north of the upper snow park, and Wilson Creek Road.
The Level 1 notification has been removed and there are no restrictions from the lower portion of Upper Green Canyon Road southeast to Chukar Ridge Road and continuing southeast to Charlton Road. This includes Reecer Creek Road 1/2 mile south of the power lines, Robbins Road north of Chukar Ridge Road, Wilson Creek Road north of Charlton Road and Naneum Road north of Charlton Road. The area south of the Lauderdale junction to Elk Springs Road is also no longer under the Level 1 notification and has no restrictions.
Also effective at 12pm today, state lands have been reopened east of the Naneum State Forest to the Columbia River. This includes the Colockum, Quilomene and Whiskey Dick wildlife areas.
The Naneum State Forest and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (east of US97 to the Naneum State Forest) remain closed.
In the Liberty area, level 3 evacuations are still in place for Williams Creek Road, Harkness Road, Pine Gulch Road east of Red Top Road, Cougar Gulch Road, Boulder Creek Road and Liberty Mountain Association.
A Level 2 Evacuation notification remains in place for Liberty Road from US97 to Boulder Creek Road (the end of the county road), this includes the town of Liberty and any driveways directly connected to Liberty Road up to Boulder Creek Road; Pine Gulch Road west of Red Top Road, including Red Top Road; and from the Lauderdale junction north to Mineral Springs on the east side of US97 - only residences directly connected to US97.
A Level 1 Evacuation notification remains in place for the western corridor of US97 from the Lauderdale junction to Mineral Springs, including the Liberty Café area.
Local closures remain in effect for the following roads:
* Liberty Road
* Williams Creek Road
* Harkness Road
* Pine Gulch Road east of Red Top Road
* Liberty Mountain Association
* Cougar Gulch Road
* Boulder Creek Road
* Reecer Creek Road at the Snowpark
* Wilson Creek Road at the end of the county road
* Coleman Canyon Road
* Schnebly Canyon Road
* Cooke Canyon Road
* Upper Green Canyon Road
* Sun East area at the north end of Robbins Road
* Elk Springs Road
The Red Cross emergency clear air shelter remains open at the Mercer Creek Church at 1407 N. B Street, Ellensburg.
Unreliable air quality in the Kittitas Valley has prompted the athletic department to move the next home football game against Humboldt State University this Saturday, September 29. The game will be at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell, as it was last week with kickoff slated for 6:00 PM
Previously purchased tickets will be honored at the gate. Tickets will also be available at the stadium. For those not able to attend, an audio broadcast and live statistics will be available through the CWU Athletics web site at www.wildcatsports.com.
CWU’s other fall sports teams are all on the road this week, with volleyball heading to Seattle Pacific University on Thursday and Montana State University Billings on Saturday. The women's soccer squad visits Saint Martin's University on Thursday and Western Oregon University on Saturday. Cross country runners will participate Saturday in the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational in Salem, Oregon, and the Pacific Lutheran University Invitational in Tacoma.
Evacuation levels in the Wenatchee Complex all have been reduced to level 2, which allows people to return to their homes. With those fires increasingly under control, some firefighters are being re-deployed to Table Mountain, which remains 10 percent contained.
Yesterday the Table Mountain team conducted "burn-out" activities, which burn fuel before the fire reaches it and allow firefighters to confront the fire directly. Those activities will continue today, particularly on the south and southeast flanks of the fire.
Air quality is markedly improved in the region this morning, but may degrade later as high pressure traps smoke generated by burn-outs and the wildfire itself.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has extended a burning ban through Sept 30. The ban includes all outdoor and agricultural burning in eastern Washington amid continuing wildfire danger
The Wenatchee Complex fire comprises about 82 square miles; the area of the Table Mountain fire is more than 55 square miles.
Monday, Sept. 24, 2012
Kittitas County Press Release - Public Health
For Immediate Release
Red Cross evacuation shelter also open to people seeking better air quality
Kittitas County, WA -09/24/2012 - The Kittitas County Public Health Department is partnering with Kittitas County Red Cross to offer a shelter for people seeking better air to breathe. The fire evacuation shelter at the Mercer Creek Church, 1407 N. B Street in Ellensburg, is being opened up to people who are seeking a place with better air quality than their homes. For people who cannot temporarily re-locate to other areas with better air quality, or for people whose homes do not have indoor air circulation, the shelter may provide some relief from the smoky air. Staying indoors or relocating to a place with better air quality is the best form of protection for everyone in the current air quality conditions.
(Letter to faculty and staff in Academic and Student Life from Provost Levine and Faculty Senate Chair Melody Madlem.)
September 25, 2012
Dear CWU Faculty and Staff:
We trust that all had an excellent start to fall 2012, and that you are excited about the possibilities another quarter presents. The fall air is turning chilly, and also incredibly smoky as the Table Mountain Fire and Wenatchee Complex Fire continues to burn in the hills.
We may have to make modifications to our teaching until the smoke clears, and air quality improves. This may be more evident in content areas that require the use of outside ventilation that could impact indoor air quality (art, engineering, physiology, and various science areas). The Department of Ecology and the Washington State Department of Health both monitor current air quality and provide guidance as we make healthful decisions for ourselves and for our students.
As a result of the poor air quality, more students than usual may be missing class early this fall. The following groups of people are especially sensitive to wildfire smoke:
You may wish to use the following as sample language in your course syllabus:
“If you experience health problems as a result of poor air quality caused by the wildfires, please go to the CWU Student Medical and Counseling Center to be seen by a health care professional. If you have asthma or other chronic respiratory infections, have cardiovascular disease, are pregnant, or are a smoker, please take extra precautions during periods of especially poor air quality.
If your absence from class is related to the poor air quality, you will be given the opportunity to make-up your assignments and class content without penalty, provided that you document the effect of smoke on your health with a note from the CWU Student Medical and Counseling Center or your regular family physician. It is YOUR responsibility to notify your instructor, in advance, when absent
due to the poor air quality. Regardless of current air quality, you MUST complete the requirements of the course to receive a passing grade." Plan for your own absences and assure you have access to the Internet and Blackboard for assignments.
Faculty also may wish to consider the following as we face another smoke-filled week that may increase absenteeism: Have a discussion as soon as possible about the air quality in Ellensburg and around campus. Be prepared to answer questions students may have about this, and what CWU is doing. Consider altering your policies on missed examinations and late assignments so that academic concerns don't prompt students to risk their health by walking to class during periods of very unhealthy or even hazardous air quality. Give students a reasonable amount of time to make up missed work and remember that they are dealing with this backlog in all of their classes.
Consider eliminating mandatory class attendance during periods of poor air quality. Utilize multiple modes of teaching, including Blackboard. There may be many student requests for special accommodations, so have plans in place that will treat all students equitably and could be feasible in the face of large numbers of requests. Encourage students to be proactive in preparing for poor air quality:
Please consider developing plans for your own potential absence from class due to poor air quality. Will you utilize the Blackboard system? Will you email students with assignments?
Review the CWU Table Mountain Fire Webpage located on CWU’s homepage for more information (www.cwu.edu/table-mountain-fire). You may also want to post the web address for this page in your syllabus, as it will be your best source for the most current reliable and valid information related specifically to CWU. You will be able to see the most current air quality status that will be updated twice each day.
Thanks, in advance, for once again assisting our students. We are all contingency planning, and some careful thought at this stage may result in better health outcomes for students, faculty, and staff.
Marilyn Levine, Provost Melody S. Madlem, PhD., CHES
Vice President for Academic and Student Life Chair, CWU Faulty Senate
(Email from President James L Gaudino to the university community sent this morning at 11:36.)
To the campus community,
I wish my first email to you during this new academic year was on a topic other than our poor air quality. Faculty and staff and our community have been beset by wildfire for nearly six weeks. Hot weather and dry prairie and forest conditions created a terrible formula for unprecedented wildfire. Throughout, our highest priority for all activities associated with fire response is protecting the health and safety of students and CWU employees.
We continue to be in communication with city and country officials, local school administrators, agencies responsible for public health in our county, and with teams engaged in the firefighting efforts. We are also in contact with the leadership of eastern Washington community colleges at which we have University Centers.
Yesterday I met with leaders of our campus to talk about how we've done so far and what we should prepare for in the next two weeks. This group included my cabinet, the Faculty Senate chair, student success dean, and representatives from Housing, Public Affairs, Facilities Management, police, and others. We discussed a wide range of "what-ifs" and brain-stormed ways to help students and employees manage the situations and stress that the fires will continue to generate, including the following:
Status of wildfires.
The Table Mountain Fire is only 10 percent contained today. Federal teams will set up camp south of Rotary Park in Ellensburg late Tuesday.
The quality of our air is likely to remain bad for the remainder of this week and possibly next. What makes prediction so difficult is that air quality is the result of many factors, including the fire (e.g., where and what is burning), atmospheric conditions (wind, humidity, temperature, etc.), and firefighting activities, which may create smoke even as they stop the advance of fire.
Adding to the complexity of the situation is that appropriate responses to changing air quality vary by individual, depending on health conditions, age, and general sensitivity to the materials in the air. Health professionals agree that the long-term effects that are likely result from the length of exposure we anticipate are minimal.
However those with respiratory or heart conditions and children and the elderly are at greatest risk, and everyone should eliminate or reduce outdoor activities when air quality is in the "unhealthy" to "hazardous" range. Inside air quality is generally better than what's outside. Our human resources staff are monitoring air quality inside our buildings and we will do what we can to reduce the movement of air from outside to inside those buildings. Face masks can help you avoid additional airborne irritants. These are available at the Student Medical and Counseling Center and in the SURC.
Additional University responses include:
Our Public Affairs staff will continue to update the CWU web site with air quality measures and information regarding the fire and our response. They are also working with staff in ASL to provide consistent and informed responses to students and parents.
I encourage you to read, “Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials.” This July 2008 pamphlet can be found at http://www.arb.ca.gov/carpa/toolkit/data-to-mes/wildfire-smoke-guide.pdf. This document provides useful information about how to respond to varying air quality conditions individually and in the workplace and classroom.
Provost Levine and Professor Madlem, chair of our faculty senate, are developing guidelines to address student concerns about exposure to smoke. Provost Levine will review that document with members of her Provost Council.
Dean Swager will ensure our health center is prepared to handle increased visits that may occur in the next days or weeks. She and Athletic Director Bishop will closely monitor air quality and adjust or cancel outside or other activities that require physical exercise in necessary. She will also work with Associate Dean DeShields to monitor activities in our residence halls.
Associate Vice President Badgley will coordinate with the appropriate community college officials to ensure that our staff and students at the eastside University Centers are kept informed and have access to local services.
Thank you for your patience during these smoky and stressful times. The actions of faculty and staff have made us all proud over the last six weeks. Your long hours, compassion, and creativity have helped make these smoky weeks bearable.
James L Gaudino, President
400 East University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7501
509.963.2111; 509.963.3206 (fax); 330.554.6528 (mobile)
Below please see this morning's "smoke update" from the state Dept. of Ecology.
The weather systems over the weekend that were supposed to alleviate some smoke in eastern WA also got up to a little mischief in the process. While they did cause some dispersion and desisted from sparking off new wildfires, they also transported some smoke from central Idaho wildfires further west which then mixed to the surface in eastern WA after the inversion broke. These impacts appear to have persisted throughout the day in a lot of eastern WA. Some smoke from WA wildfires was pushed up against the Cascades and impacted the communities at the eastern foothills once the drainage flows started and easterly winds let up.
Light winds over the Cascades today are not expected to do a whole lot to help with smoke in the hard-hit communities. That said the models are advertising some moderate winds near the gaps along I90 and Hwy 2 starting later today. If it pans out, this could lead to good dispersion in Ellensburg, Leavenworth and the Methow, but also risks limiting plume rise. Flow is most W-NW which pushes smoke into the Columbia Basin. But how far southeast into the Basin it will travel before turning NE (under a SW flow regime), is uncertain. This could lead to smoke impacts in the Spokane area too. The Yakima valley might get off lightly today, but parts of Klickitat County could see a little bit of smoke from the Mt. Adams fire.
Models are backing off on the strength of the low pressure systems that were expected to bring some cooling and spotty rainfall to the northern counties. No strong winds in the forecast through this week, though some clearing is expected east of the Cascades Tuesday afternoon.
Western WA did not see enough vertical mixing to transport this smoke to the surface. No air quality issues are expected in Western WA over the coming days.
A federal firefighting team will set up camp south of Rotary Park in Ellensburg on Tuesday night. More than 1400 people will camp there and put about 250 additional vehicles on the road when shifts change first thing in the morning and in the later afternoon. Traffic will be routed to avoid residential streets.
Firefighters' efforts to prevent movement of the fire north will actually create more smoke in the short term. Firefighters are working the east flank of the fire today and anticipating warm dry weather for the next ten days.
Air quality this morning is very unhealthy" in Ellensburg, Hazardous in Wenatchee, unhealthy in Yakima, and unhealthy for sensitive groups in Moses Lake.
Infrared monitors show that the Table Mountain and Peavine fires have not merged, as fire crews suspected on Saturday. Cooler temperatures are giving firefighters a little relief, but the fire is still only about 10 percent contained. Wildfire activity is expected to remain consistent over the next few days, depending on weather conditions.
President Gaudino yesterday convened a fire response team to discuss how the university has managed and will continue to address challenges generated by wildfires. The group included the cabinet, Faculty Senate president, student success dean, and representatives from Housing, Public Affairs, Facilities Management, Police, and others. The university has been dealing with wildfire-related issues since mid-August, when the Taylor Bridge fire erupted. The Table Mountain fire started on Sept 8. Here are some of the discussion points from yesterday's meeting:
This web site will be updated at least twice a day, particularly with respect to outdoor air quality.
Sept. 23, 2012
Air quality in Moses Lake and Ellensburg is "unhealthy for sensitive groups," "moderate" in Yakima, and "hazardous" in Wenatchee.
Pacific Northwest Team 2 (Incident Commander Mike Morcom) has assumed management of the Table Mountain Fire. The Incident Command Post, currently located in Teanaway, will move to the Rotary Park sports complex in Ellensburg (tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, September 24, 2012).
Fire activity is expected to increase slightly today with interior burning occurring within the fire perimeter and potential for intense flare-ups and rapid rates of spread in some areas if wind and topography are aligned. Fire crews continue to provide initial attack response and structure protection around Liberty and Reecer in the Liberty, Liberty Mountain, Pine Gulch, Harkness and Deer Gulch areas.
Red Cross Shelter: The shelter at Mercer Creek Church remains open. The church is located at 407 North “B” Street in Ellensburg. The shelter can provide meals, toiletries, showers or other services, even for those who do not need to stay overnight.
Animal Shelter: Evacuated livestock and temporary housing for small pets available until a vet clinic can be found for providing long-term care.
How we got here. The Table Mountain Fire started September 8, when more than 4,000 lightning strikes lit up the sky--and 300 hit the ground and started a fire. More than 1,000 personnel have been assigned to the fire, including 6 hotshot crews, 17 type II hand crews, 7 helicopters, 84 engines, 10 dozers and 20 water tenders.
New social media sites for the fire:
Dry lightening did not materialize over night and no new fires were reported. But the red flag warning for critical fire weather remains in effect until tonight.
Air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups in Moses Lake, moderate in Ellensburg, hazardous in Wenatchee, and good in Yakima.
Management of the Table Mountain Fire switches this morning to Type 1 Pacific Northwest Team 2. Type 1 or "Hot Shot" teams are professional firefighters. Yesterday afternoon's winds scrubbed out smoke enough to allow fire crews to attack the fire from the air . Air support was focused on building the fire line closer to the main fire along the southern perimeter. Table Mountain and the Peavine fire merged Saturday.
The National Weather Service issued an Air Quality Alert for much of eastern Washington through Monday at 5:00 PM.
US-97 is open but intermittent closures or reductions to a single lane are possible.
Sept. 22, 2012
Air quality in Yakima, Ellensburg, and Moses Lake is "unhealthy for sensitive people"; in WEnatchee air quality is "hazardous."
This weekend the responsibility for the Table Mountain Fire will shift to a regional "type 1" team. A "type 2" team headed by the Dept. of Natural Resources has been leading that fire fight. According to the US Forest Service, "Type 2 crews are often made up of seasonal firefighters whereas a Type I IHC crew are 'Hotshots' and have at least 7 full-time, career firefighters on the crew (Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, 3 Squad Bosses)."
On US-97 over Blewett Pass, motorists will experience one-way piloted traffic between milepost 164, at the summit, to milepost 166, due to fire activity.
Air quality in Ellensburg this morning has improved to "moderate." Yakima remains "unhealthy," Moses Lake is "unhealthy for sensitive people," and Wenatchee is "hazardous." A storm front is moving into the area bringing wind, unseasonably warm temperatures and low humidity. Good news: slight chance of showers. Bad news: they'll come with lightning.
U-S 97 / Blewett Pass reopened at 7:00 last night. It is open now but will be closed as needed today to allow firefighters to work on the Table Mountain fire, which is expected to merge with Pea Vine near Wenatchee, if it hasn't already.
Sept. 21, 2012
The "complex" of four fires in the Table Mountain area have merged and now encompass aboutr 30,000 acres with a 40 mile perimeter. A cooling trend is expected this weekend but may be accompanied by dry lightening.
US 97 Blewett Pass is scheduled to close Friday at 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from milepost 150 at the junction of SR 970 to milepost 177.
Effective 12 PM today, all state lands are closed east of the Naneum State Forest line to the Columbia River, and north of Vantage Highway to just north of the Kittitas-Chelan County line. This includes the Colockum, Quilomene and Whiskey Dick wildlife areas.
Forest closures remain in place for the Naneum State Forest and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (east of US97 to the Naneum State Forest). Please see a fire map here
Help managing smokey air.
The Kittitas County Public Health Department and the Central Washington University Student Medical and Counseling Clinic have face masks available to for people with respiratory health conditions such as asthma or emphysema if needed. Kittitas Valley Community Hospital has masks available for people who have a prescription from their health care provider.
N-95 or P-100 masks can provide limited protection from the small particulate matter found in wildfire smoke if worn and fitted properly. Bandanas (wet or dry), paper or surgical masks, or tissues held over the mouth and nose will not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. Individuals with heart or lung conditions should consult with their health care provider before using a mask. Masks are not designed to fit children properly and should not be used for children as they will not provide protection. Children should be kept indoors.
A new blog is live, providing information from city, county, tribal, state and federal agencies to coordinate and aggregate information for Washington communities affected by wildfire smoke. Please check out the info at http://wasmoke.blogspot.com/.
Kittitas County Emergency Operations Center today released the following air quality information:
The air quality level in Ellensburg this morning was in the “very unhealthy” range. During conditions of unhealthy to hazardous air quality, the Kittitas County Public Health Department encourages everyone living in Kittitas County (and neighboring areas affected by smoke) to:
7:30 a.m. - Football moved to Bothell
CWU's "home" football game against Azusa Pacific University this Saturday, September 22, will be played at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell, Washington. The address is 9809 NE 188th St. about 15 miles north of Seattle.
Kickoff as also been moved up 30 minutes to 12:30 p.m.
Previously purchased tickets will be honored at the gate. Tickets will also be available at the stadium. For those not able to attend, an audio broadcast and live statistics will be available through the CWU Athletics web site at www.wildcatsports.com.
Here are a few more details about the game Saturday:
1) The Stadium will only take cash for tickets and concessions
2) The stadium is on high school property so there is no alcohol, tobacco, or weapons allowed in the stadium including the parking lot.
3) The game with be patrolled by the Bothell police, so much like the Battle in Seattle, we are subject to how they regulate the game and parking lot.
4) Fans are encouraged to sit on either side, our team will be located on the west side.
5) No food or drink on the field.
6) The south Gate will be a ticket gate only. The north gate is where will-call and ticket sales will be located.
Sept. 20, 2012
There will be a community meeting tonight in the Student Union and Recreation Center Theatre at 7:00 to update residents about the fire and answer questions. Parking is free.
The meeting can be viewed online here.
Yesterday the Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at the Mercer Creek Church at 1407 N. B Street, Ellensburg.
Poor air quality is prompting CWU to move Saturday's home football game to Pop Keeney Stadium, 9809 N.E. 188th St. in Bothell.
Buses have been reserved to Wildcat fans students to the game. They will be leaving at 9:45 am from the front of the Bassetties Residence Halls (seen from the SURC East Entrance).
Thanks to Student Union Operations, University Housing and New Student Programs, and Dining Services for assisting with the cost of transportation. In addition, thanks to the Wildcat Shop, Campus Life, and the ASCWU BOD for their support.
Barry Kling, Administrator and Director of Environmental Health at The Chelan Douglas Health district today clarified information in the Wenatchee World about the effects of exposure to smoke with the following statement. The full statement is available at http://www.cdhd.wa.gov/:
Following are air quality classifications as of 12:45 p.m. on Thursday (Sept. 20) and links to fire updates for your area:
As of 3:45 following are air quality assessments for our region:
The state Department of Ecology (DOE) monitors air quality at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/Default.htm. When air quality is classified as "unhealthy," or worse, DOE and Kittitas County Environmental Health recommends that residents—including CWU students and employees—try to stay inside as much as possible and to limit physical activity when outdoors.
The Facilities Management Department has taken measures to reduce the amount of outside air entering buildings. It is expected that the current air quality conditions will continue for the next several days.
The Central Washington University Foundation selected 13 projects for 2013 funding through the LeonArcher Named Interim Dean Of CWU Graduate Studies And Research
Central Washington University Geography Department Chair Kevin Archer has been appointed interim deCWU Selects Lindsey Brown As New Registrar
Lindsey Brown has been named registrar at Central Washington University. Brown comes to CWU from Mo