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Washington's raging Tunnel 5 fire scorches over 540 acres

The fire is threatening more than 100 structures and has destroyed at least 10 so far.
Tunnel 5 Fire
Posted at 12:49 PM, Jul 05, 2023

The Northwestern U.S. is already seeing the effects of El Niño with a large fire burning in Washington along the Oregon border.

The Tunnel 5 Fire that broke out July 2 in Skamania County, Washington, prompted evacuation orders for about 1,000 residents within a 4-mile radius of the fire.

As of Wednesday morning, only 5% of it was contained, and hot, windy conditions caused the fire to spread rapidly, burning more than 540 acres.

"The past few days, smoke has been moving eastward due to the westerly winds. Today has brought a wind shift from the east, causing smoke to funnel westward and impact areas of Portland," the Southwest Washington Interagency Incident Management Team said Tuesday.

According to multiple reports, the fire is threatening more than 100 structures and has destroyed at least 10 so far. Currently,there are 36 engines, eight crews, three helicopters, four air tanks and 372 personnel working to contain the fire.

Additionally, due to a loss of pressure in the water system that could potentially result in contamination, an order to boil water has been issued in Underwood.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning until 11 p.m. Wednesday as a response to hot, dry and unstable conditions that could allow the fires to spark and grow quickly around Skamania and surrounding counties.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and officials are asking anyone with video or information on what could have caused it to contact the local authorities.

Sea surface temperature anomalies during an El Nino period

NOAA says an unusually early El Nino is on the way

An earlier start to El Nino makes 2023 more likely to be one of the warmer years on record.