“Washington Wildfire: 10 Homes Lost, 25 at Risk”



Firefighters in southwestern Washington are currently battling a wildfire that began near Underwood, a small town in Skamania County, on Sunday. The fire has already destroyed 10 homes and scorched over 530 acres. As of Tuesday morning, it was only 5% contained.

The fire rapidly spread through a hillside community overlooking State Route 14 and the Columbia River due to hot and windy conditions on Sunday.

Authorities issued evacuation orders for residents within a 2-mile radius of the fire. Thankfully, no injuries or missing individuals have been reported so far.

The fire, named the Tunnel Five Fire, is currently under investigation to determine its cause. The National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon, has issued warnings for potential wildfire conditions in the surrounding region, including parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Although Washington State had a relatively quiet wildfire season last year compared to the record-setting seasons of 2020 and 2021, officials are concerned about persistently dry weather conditions this year, which could lead to a more active fire season.

On Tuesday, a change in wind direction was expected to carry smoke from the Tunnel Five Fire toward Portland, Oregon. Approximately 250 homes were at risk, and an emergency shelter was set up at the county fairgrounds to accommodate evacuees.

Residents in a neighboring county were also advised to be prepared for potential evacuations.

To combat the fire, authorities deployed five crews, 31 fire engines, and a total of 189 emergency workers, along with multiple aircraft.

Firefighting aircraft were utilizing water from the nearby river to extinguish the flames. Additional resources, including heavy equipment and more fire engines, were expected to arrive on Tuesday.

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office urged residents to exercise caution and avoid starting new fires, emphasizing the responsible use of fireworks.

The sheriff’s office expressed empathy for those who had to leave their homes or were concerned about potential evacuations, recognizing the impact on July Fourth celebrations.

The nearest major population center, White Salmon, located approximately 2 miles east of the fire, had around 2,500 residents. Hood River, Oregon, across the river from White Salmon, canceled its July Fourth fireworks show in consideration of the ongoing wildfire situation, prioritizing the community’s well-being during this challenging time.

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