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Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Flames are visible from the Washington side of the Columbia River above the Bonneville Dam in North Bonneville, Wash., as a wildfire moves west, on Sept. 6, 2017. (Photo: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Oregon forestry officials say the state’s wildfires have scorched at least 822 square miles (2,128 square. kilometers) . That’s an area more than half the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Jim Gersbach said that the estimated cost to fight the fires so far is at least $238.5 million dollars. Oregon wildfires burned 885 square miles (2,292 square kilometers) in 2015.

The state’s wildfire season usually ends in mid-October when soaking rains arrive. Gersbach says this year’s fire season began later than normal this year because of a wet winter and spring. He says the brush, trees and downed timber that fuel fires are now dry and ready to burn hot when ignited.

People in Oregon covered their faces with scarves to keep choking ash from wildfires from filling their lungs and wiped the soot from windshields.

Some long-time residents say what they’re doing similar to they had to do in 1980 during the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens when ash poured over the region.

The growing blaze is east of Portland, Oregon in the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

It is one of dozens of wildfires burning in western U.S. states that sent smoke into cities from Seattle to Denver. The fires have prompted health warnings and cancellations of outdoor activities for children by many school districts. (AP)

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