Since recent wildfires have wreaked havoc in the Okanogan and Chelan areas, visibility has been very smoky from what fire officials on scene are calling a fire “lid”. Although this smoky “lid” has grounded aerial firefighting operations in the area, it has also kept fire activity more at bay and allowed incoming resources more time to provide reinforcements to the numerous incident management teams tasked with controlling the now over 600,000 acres that have burned in Central and Northeastern Washington.
Hwy 97 South of Okanogan, WA. 1/4 Mile visibility Tuesday morning. (Photo Courtesy of Pat Durland, RedZone Liaison)
When the smoke eventually lifts and visibility reaches 2 miles or greater, air operations will commence. But firefighting officials have warned both the public and resources on scene that lifting smoke will also mean an increase in fire activity due to lowering humidity and rising heat. For the very large area of uncontrolled fire line and dry fuels, that could spell trouble for weeks to come.