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Fire burning in coastal reservation in Washington; air quality takes big hit

by Michael Lockett, Aberdeen (Wash.) Daily World |

Members of Quinault Nation Fire Management and the Washington Department of Natural Resources were deployed to fight a wildfire near Moclips that had spread to 50 acres as of Thursday morning.

Charred stumps and devastation stretched for hundreds of yards at the fire site, some still smoking, blending into the smoke and haze Thursday morning as low clouds choked the morning sky.

“It’s about 50-some acres at this point,” said Rachel Lipski, a public information officer for the Western Washington Type 3 Incident Management Team in a phone interview Thursday.

“It seems to have calmed down overnight. With the winds not pushing too hard and it not getting too hot today, it shouldn’t get too much bigger.”

The fire was first spotted on Wednesday morning in the Margaritaville logging area, off of the Moclips Highway, when it had consumed about two acres of land, according to an Quinault Indian Nation news release.

“The fire was burning mostly in the cedar slash left over from the timber harvest,” Lipski said.

About 20 firefighters from the two organizations were engaged in fighting the wildfire on Thursday, with additional reinforcement expected from the National Park Service. Aerial assets were also deployed by DNR to help suppress the fire with water drops, including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, according to the news release.

“The plan is to get the two helicopters up to do what they call bucket work,” Lipski said.

Dropping water on the fire helps cool it, Lipski said, allowing ground teams to deny the fire fuel and establish containment.

More air resources may be employed if the fire continues to grow, according to the news release. DNR is using infrared surveys to assess the fire behavior and forecast how it might continue to expand, according to the news release.