Firefighters Facing Heat Wave In Washington And Oregon

Jul 13, 2014

Crews battling wildfires in eastern Washington and southeastern Oregon are dealing with sizzling hot temperatures not just from flames, but also a general heat wave. Correspondent Tom Banse reports firefighters are gaining ground this weekend despite the wilting heat. Four out of the five largest fires are nearly 100 percent contained.

A portable, temporary air monitor was placed on the roof of the high school in Entiat and has been collecting samples since Thursday. Note the ground-hugging wildfire smoke in background.
Credit Chelan County Emergency Management

You can't wear shorts and a T-shirt to a firefight. So how do you stay cool and functional on the fire line when the thermometer is pushing triple digits? U.S. Forest Service spokesman Joe Anderson says "the main thing is to stay hydrated" and pace yourself.

Joe Anderson: "They don't want to get exhausted. So they work at a pace that is equal to the temperature and the amount of energy they're putting out. And then they monitor themselves all the time."

Anderson says that strategy is working in Entiat, Washington where he is. That's the scene of the largest wildfire currently burning in the Northwest. The blaze in central Washington state has already chewed through 34 square miles of grass and scattered timber. But Anderson says fire crews have successfully defended nearby homes and are increasing containment. Investigators have not figured out what caused this fire.

coppyright, 2014 KLCC