Wildfires Burning

September 8, 2020, 8 am. View South under the smoke blanket.

Many of you know that I live in the state of Oregon on the west coast of the United States. We have copious amounts of beautiful scenery, old growth forests (in some locations), beaches, rivers and gorgeous mountains. We also have massive wildfires burning throughout the state right now. Almost a million acres have burned in just this past week. That’s larger than the state of Rhode Island. Over 500,000 people are in level 1-3 evacuation zones due to the rapid spread. Our air is filled with smoke, not just here in the Willamette Valley, we’re talking about the entire state. This morning the air quality index for Albany was 507 (255 as of 2 pm) . My sister & brothers in Eugene woke to 544 (400 at 2 pm). At 150, air is considered very unhealthy.

What’s occurring is unprecedented for our state and we can only hope for a weather shift to aid in controlling the spread. Change has been happening slowly. The initial wind storm started Monday afternoon and went through Wednesday. The winds were from the North East and super dry! It was like having a late fall/early winter windstorm but without the rain and humidity. Trees & branches fell on power lines, starting many fires. Normal humidity levels dropped to 10%. Today we’re back up above 50%! Early next week we should be receiving a little rain which will aid reducing air pollution. The firefighters will need weeks to gain control of the blazes. It probably won’t be until sometime in mid-winter they will be extinguished.

Firefighters are receiving help from the National Guard on Saturday. Teams are coming from other countries. Help is coming forward.

September 8, 2020, 8 am. View East. The deep red color is accurate.
September 8, 2020, 9:30 am. View East.
September 8, 2020, 9:30 am. View South.
September 8, 2020, 4 pm. View South
September 9, 2020, 12:50 pm. View South.
Two days of ash accumulation on my car windshield.
September 11, 2020, 2 pm.

I don’t have other images to share of actual fires and forest destruction. You can all search for those online. Please ignore the crazy false stories that the fires were started by extremist groups, because they weren’t. Check the fire maps at Northwest Interagency Coordination Center or Oregon.gov for further information.

Stay safe out there!


Published by paperstew

I'm an artist in Albany Oregon focusing on paper and natural objects for inspiration.

15 thoughts on “Wildfires Burning

  1. This is very reminiscent of our last summer, we had the intense smoke clouds for weeks on end, but not those blazing skies or the amount of ash fall you have had. It’s scary on both a personal level but even more so on a broader geo political level. All I can say is I’m thinking of you Gale.

    1. It doesn’t matter what continent we live on, fires are certainly increasing in intensity. I thought of you and Karen so often last summer when you were experiencing similar things. I wish I could have shared with you one of the most beautiful old growth stands. It’s called Opal Creek if you want to search it out. Just amazing and in the heart of the Beachie Creek/Santiam fire complex. We all fear that it’s lost. The rain looks more promising for Monday – Thursday. At least our air might get clean for a few days. The fires will continue and smoke will return.
      At least we won’t be waking up to blood red skies! That was freaky!!!


      1. Sorry for the late reply, we have been out of range for a few days. It looks as though your skies are clearing, but it will probably be a slow business. It is heartbreaking to see and hear of the destruction, to ancient trees as well as the staggering number of animals that are lost in these events. There are lots of reasons for these fires, but there can be no argument that climate change is at the centre of them. The world is changing before our eyes.

      2. Yes, climate change is most certainly to blame for everything coming unglued. It’s been horrible to see the destruction and it probably won’t really take hold until I travel those roads and see it with my own eyes. The fires are getting contained and more rain is scheduled for the next 4 days. Fingers crossed that this helps matters.
        I’m loving all your sketchbook drawings!!! It brightens my day!

  2. That red sky was frightening, even in a photo knowing you had taken it. Do you have an air quality gauge or rely on NOAA> I was looking at pictures from San Francisco earlier, their air looks thick, the fog contributes of course. The most startling thing for me is the amount of ash, Like Mt St Helens had gone off again. Someone had posted they are surrounded in Salem, I assume she meant fires on all four sides, not that she was in imminent danger, but the way Santa Rosa went last year I wouldn’t want all roads closed. So frightening. How are your fur creatures handling it? And Kim and Mike and Tom? I know Harold and Lindsay have been restricted to their senior living apartment since Spring. Crazy times And it is global as your Aus friend said, so much wild life lost there.
    Keep posting, stay safeAre you on a well or city water. If a well I’d keep it really damp as far around as possible, and from the ash on top of the house. Love and concern, Jean

    1. I keep track of the air quality via Airnow.gov. EPA/DEQ site. Accurate.
      The ash totally reminded me of St Helens. Granted quite a bit chunkier, but coating everything. We failed to close the car windows Monday night and the interior is covered! I’ll be doing some serious cleaning in a day or two.
      Salem doesn’t have the fires. It must be someone farther east. That’s a funny spot. There’s two fires possibly converging around Molalla. I think it’s easy to get trapped with fire coming down both sides of a valley. I hope more people get out before it’s too late.
      The pets don’t understand why we’re not going on walks. I still let them out for pee breaks when they want to. I still have the garden to tend, pick and water. The siblings are all staying indoors. Kim hasn’t been to work since Monday due to the air quality. She has the bad lungs like my mother.
      We are on city water so nothing too concerning.
      We’re in a holding pattern until the rain comes next week. We try to not do too much outside, but can’t avoid some store trips. Air quality has been awful today. Maybe tomorrow will be better!
      Love you!

  3. I remember this kind of sky and ash also here from two summers ago, although this seems even crazier. Stay safe. It brings back memories of being on evacuation alert, the horrible ongoing scariness.

    1. Has it been 2 summers? Amazing. I’m glad you didn’t have to evacuate. That was a scary fire season!
      I went out for an art supply and pet food today. Wore an N95 mask to protect my lungs. Air quality has been hazardous all day:450. Yuck! Fingers crossed for rain next week. Also hoping that the fires decrease more and people don’t have to evacuate.

      1. The rains are starting. A new front currently is moving in and should dump some water over the next 4 days. We’re enjoying clear skies again with minor increases to the air quality in my area. Thanks for checking in!

    1. A scary end of time beauty! I shot out of bed when seeing the red sky Tuesday morning! The darkness went on for hours.
      I’m just lucky to be able to stay home during this time. Certainly feeling sad for those who have lost homes, businesses, family members, and everything. Life won’t ever be the same.

  4. The amount of ash on the car is amazing! I live in SW Washington and we luckily just got a dusting. The photos out of the Albany / Salem area were stunning with that red sky. “Mars” comes to mind.

    1. The car window photo is probably a bit misleading because the ash slid down and compacted near the wipers. It was still quite a heavy load. I have night video from the back yard showing what almost looked like a snowfall. Pretty upsetting for all involved. Thanks so much for your comment. It’s lovely to see new people!

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