White River and Irving Peak Fire Response Team Address Residential Frustration on Smoke
The White River and Irving Peak Fire response team are addressing some of the frustrations people have been having with the smoke.
Since August 11, the White River, Irving Peak, and Minnow Ridge fires have burned roughly 14,412 acres and have 10 percent contained.
Recently, a Type 4 Incident Management team took over firefighting operations, with 60 personnel working on the fire.
Fire activity for all four fires have quieted down despite the visible smoke saying otherwise.
The smoke remains stagnant in the North Central region due to a lack of wind pushing it out of the area.
The smoke is also perpetually trapped in the valleys due to the shorter days pushing the smoke down, despite above average temperatures in October.
Since August, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties have been contending with the smoke, with AQI reaching up to the 400-500 range in worst case scenarios.
Residents have been sharing their frustrations regarding smoke, with some calling this a “let it burn strategy.”
Public Information Officer Heather Appelhoff said these long-term fires are not unusual for the North Central Region.
“Part of being a fire-adapted community also includes being smoke adapted,” Appelhoff said. “I know that that doesn't really quell any of the frustration, but part of living in a fire prone area is that we will have this smoke.”
Appelhoff explained that this fire will keep burning until an influx of rain or snow finally extinguishes it.
“This situation is not an easy one, we didn't get here overnight. Large, long-duration fires are becoming more common throughout the West, and they’re here to stay,” wrote Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Public Affairs Officer Victoria Wilkins.
Due to the location of the fires, firefighting efforts have been limited for the safety of firefighters.
“We know that even without any structure losses, the smoke and closures are annoying and impact your summer plans,” wrote Wilkens. “But there is no structure and no summer vacation plan that is worth a firefighter’s life.”