2021 Washington wildfires

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2021 Washington wildfires
Total firesOver 836 (as of late July)
Total areaOver 484,045 acres (195,886 ha) (as of August 15)
Date(s)March 2021–October 2021
Statewide state of emergency: July 6, 2021[1]
Buildings destroyed
  • 9 homes
← 2020
2022 →

The 2021 Washington wildfire season officially began in March 2021. By late April, all of Eastern Washington had been classified by the United States Drought Monitor as "abnormally dry" with moderate to severe drought conditions.[2] The state had more than 630 wildfires by the first week of July, on par with the state's record 2015 wildfire season.[3]

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported the end of the fire season by October 12,[4] and the DNR and the Northwest Interargency Fire Center reported zero fires in the state on October 14.[5]


List of notable fires[edit]

The following is a list of fires that burned more than 1,000 acres (400 ha), or produced significant structural damage or casualties.

Name County Acres Start Date Contained Date Cause Notes
Lind fire Chelan 20,000 June 27, 2021 June 29 [6]
Joseph Canyon Fire Asotin 7,610 (including Oregon) June 4, 2021 June 21 Lightning
Batterman Fire Douglas 14,100 July 4, 2021 July 12
Green Ridge Fire Garfield, Columbia 42,722 July 7, 2021
Lick Creek (Dry Gulch) Fire Asotin 80,421 July 7, 2021 August 14, 2021 (97%) Lightning
Burbank Fire Yakima 13,000 July 10, 2021 July 14, 2021
Cedar Creek Fire Okanogan 55,572 July 11, 2021 August 15, 2021 (50%) Lightning Closed North Cascades Highway
Summit Trail Fire Okanagan 49,329 July 12, 2021 Lightning
Chuweah Creek Fire Okanagan over 36,752 July 12, 2021 August 9, 2021 (98%) Lightning Dwellings lost, Keller and Nespelem evacuated
Red Apple Fire Chelan 12,228 July 13, 2021 July 18, 2021 (90%) Human Over 1,500 homes told to evacuate
Cub Creek 2 Fire Okanogan 70,186 July 16, 2021 Hazardous air quality in Twisp; dwellings lost
Whitmore Fire Okanogan 58,280 August 3, 2021 Lightning/Natural As many as 500 residences under Level 2 evacuations.
Walker Creek Fire Okanogan 23,331 August 3, 2021 Unknown Merged with Spur Fire. (Size is both Spur and Walker Creek Fire combined.)
Schneider Springs Fire Yakima 101,633 August 4, 2021 Lightning Caused poor air quality across Eastern Washington and in Puget Sound region. Biggest fire burning in Washington State as of September 12, 2021.
Twenty-Five Mile Fire Chelan 21,380 August 15, 2021 Caused evacuations and loss of one home; countywide state of emergency declared[7]

Timeline of events[edit]

The month of April had more fires than the previous year,[8] and a year-to-date record 410 fires occurred on state-managed lands by the second week of June.[9]

The Joseph Canyon Fire burned on both sides of the Oregon–Washington border during June. It was ignited by lightning during the night of June 3–4.[10]

The Hair Road Fire in Walla Walla County south of Lower Monumental Dam grew to 10,000 acres before being contained on June 21.[11]

A brush fire near Lind in Adams County was ignited on the morning of June 27 and grew to 20,000 acres the same day. It resulted in the closure of Washington State Route 21.[12] By June 29, it was 100% contained.[6]

The Cedar Hills Fire began on June 28 near the Seattle suburb of Issaquah and grew to over 30 acres, involving Eastside Fire and Rescue and state firefighting resources.[13][14]

Smoke from British Columbia fires that occurred during the 2021 Western North America heat wave began to enter Washington in early July.[15][16]

Batterman Fire: Satellite image of Wenatchee, Washington area on July 3 before the fire and July 5 showing smoke plume and 10 km long burn scar south of Badger Mountain

The Batterman Fire in Douglas County near East Wenatchee (47°24′32″N 120°10′34″W / 47.409°N 120.176°W / 47.409; -120.176[17]) began on Independence Day in the hills above Pangborn Memorial Airport.[18] By July 6, it had burned 14,375 acres (5,817 ha),[17] and many residents had been ordered to evacuate.[19] Batterman Road and Rock Island Grade Road along Rock Island Creek were closed.[17] The fire was reported fully contained on July 12, with a revised burned area of 14,100 acres (5,700 ha).[20]

The governor declared a state of emergency on July 6.[1]

The 300+ acre Andrus Road fire in the Spokane suburbs drew firefighters from as far away as Thurston and Lewis County in Western Washington, hundreds of miles away.[21]

Lightning on July 7 ignited many fires in Eastern Washington including the Asotin Complex Fire near Clarkston which grew to several hundred acres before the end of the day.[22] The Dry Gulch Fire, part of the complex, grew to over 38,000 acres by July 10 and was burning in rugged terrain with heavy fuels.[23] By July 12, it had reached 55,055 acres.[24] The Lick Creek and Dry Gulch fires were administratively merged on July 12, with a combined 63,533 acres (25,711 ha) reported July 14.[25][26] By July 22, the Lick Creek Fire was 76,167 acres in size.[27] By July 26, it was 90% contained.[28]

On July 12, the Burbank Fire burning around Burbank Creek in the Yakima River Canyon and extending into the Yakima Training Center reached 12,000 acres (4,900 ha).[29] It was declared contained on July 14 after 13,000 acres burned.[30]

A portion of the North Cascades Highway was closed due to the Cedar Creek Fire on July 12.[31] It was to remain closed for at least several days as the Varden Fire nearby grew to several hundred acres.[32] The fires merged and reached 2,900 acres on July 15.[33] The fire grew to 18,634 acres by July 21,[34] to 20,806 acres by July 23,[35] and had grown to 52,030 acres by August 4.[36]

Until July, no heavy smoke events had impacted ground-level air quality in the state's largest cities of Seattle and Spokane in Western Washington and Eastern Washington respectively, but there was the possibility of smoke entering the state from large Western fires like the Oregon Bootleg Fire.[37][38] On July 13, Spokane media reported smoke had begun to affect the air, becoming "unhealthy for some".[39][40]

The Summit Trail Fire was started by lightning on the Colville reservation on July 12 and grew to over 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) by July 19.[41] By July 22, it was almost 6,000 acres,[42] and by July 26, it was 11,256 acres.[43]

Seven homes were lost in the Chuweah Creek Fire at Nespelem, Washington on July 12–13, which caused evacuation of the town and burned over 10,000 acres (4,000 ha).[44][45] The fire grew to 22,900 acres by July 15,[46] and over 37,000 acres by July 16; the town of Keller, Washington was also evacuated.[47][48] The fire was 97% contained by August 9.[49]

The Red Apple Fire, caused by an illegal burn around 47°30′06″N 120°25′10″W / 47.5016°N 120.4194°W / 47.5016; -120.4194 in Cashmere,[50][51][52] prompted evacuation of hundreds of residents in the Wenatchee area July 13–14, including "leave now" orders for some.[53][54] U.S. Route 97 Alternate was closed on July 14 due to the fire.[55] The fire grew to 9,000 acres on July 14 and people in over 1,000 homes were told to evacuate.[56] On July 15 it was 11,000 acres, and evacuations were ordered for 1,500 homes.[57] It was 90% contained by July 19.[58]

Pyrocumulus clouds from the Cub Creek Fire seen from Kingston, Washington 115 miles (185 km) distant

The Cub Creek 2 Fire broke out north of Winthrop in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Washington DNR lands on July 16. Evacuations were ordered around Winthrop on July 17.[59] It grew to 4,690 acres by the end of the day on July 18, affecting air quality in Twisp and elsewhere in the Methow Valley.[60] The air quality index in Twisp was rated hazardous on July 19.[61] On the morning of July 20, the fire had grown to 32,473 acres and was 5% contained.[62] The National Weather Service posted images of pyrocumulus clouds generated by Cub Creek, visible from the agency's Seattle office over 110 miles (180 km) away.[63] Two dwellings were destroyed by July 20.[64] The fire grew to over 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) by July 23, and over 44,000 acres by July 26,[65][66] 52,387 acres by July 28,[67] and 58,793 acres by August 3.[68]

All state forest lands in Eastern Washington were closed to the public on July 20 due to fire danger.[69]

Due to ongoing and widespread PM2.5 particulate content in the air from multiple wildfires, children, the very old or pregnant, and other residents with respiratory conditions in parts of Okanogan County were advised in July to leave the area for their health.[70] Air quality in the Methow Valley was the unhealthiest in the nation at several points in July.[71][72] The U.S. National Weather Service Spokane office tweeted that Methow Valley's air quality could be the worst anywhere on the Earth on July 23.[73]

The Schneider Springs Fire rose near Naches, Washington during a thunderstorm on August 4. It caused poor air quality across Eastern Washington and in Puget Sound region around August 12.[74][75] By August 18 it had grown to 31,868 acres.[76]

The Twenty-Five Mile Fire started near Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park on August 15.[77]


  1. ^ a b "Inslee declares wildfire state of emergency for Washington". KING-TV. July 6, 2021.
  2. ^ Callie Craighead (April 29, 2021). "Wildfire concerns loom with dry weather outlook in Washington". Seattle P-I. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  3. ^ "State: 2021 Shaping up as Bad Wildfire Season in Washington". Associated Press. July 8, 2021.
  4. ^ Lauren Gallup (October 12, 2021). "Is fire season year-round now". Northwest Public Radio.
  5. ^ Washington State DNR Wildfire [@waDNR_fire] (October 15, 2021). "Good news! Zero large fires in Washington state right now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ a b Connor Sarles (June 29, 2021). "Lind Fire is 100-percent contained, local agencies mopping up". Spokane: KXLY.
  7. ^ Wildfire near Lake Chelan grows to 9,800 acres, hundreds of homes evacuated, KING-TV, August 19, 2021
  8. ^ Kierra Elfalan (June 10, 2021). "Washington DNR predicts challenging 2021 wildfire season". KING-TV. Retrieved June 14, 2021. In April alone, Washington state saw over 220 wildfires compared to 160 wildfires last April.
  9. ^ Joseph O'Sullivan (June 13, 2021). "Washington heads into wildfire season with a drought and 410 blazes so far on state land". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  10. ^ "Joseph Canyon Fire". Inciweb fire incident information system. USDA, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, et al. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  11. ^ "Walla Walla fire burns approximately 10,000 acres before being contained". Yaktrinews.com. Kennewick, Washington: KVEW-TV. June 21, 2021.
  12. ^ Soo Kim (June 28, 2021). "Washington Wildfire Update as Lind Blaze Burns 20,000 Acres". Newsweek.
  13. ^ "Crews tackle brush fire near Issaquah". Seattle: KIRO-TV. June 28, 2021.
  14. ^ State Fire Mobilization Authorized for the Cedar Hills Fire (PDF) (press release), Washington State Patrol Fire Marshal's Office, June 28, 2021
  15. ^ Hanna Scott (July 2, 2021). "Canadian wildfire smoke creeping its way south to Washington air space". Seattle: KIRO-TV.
  16. ^ "Smoke from British Columbia wildfires rolling south to spoil Tri-Cities skies". Tri-City Herald. Kennewick, Washington. July 2, 2021.
  17. ^ a b c "Batterman Fire". Inciweb fire incident information system. USDA, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, et al. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  18. ^ Kyle Lamb (July 4, 2021). "Batterman Fire Outside East Wenatchee Over 750 Acres". Wenatchee: KPQ (AM).
  19. ^ "More evacuations as wildfire in Central Washington grows". Times WUnion. Albany, New York. July 6, 2021.
  20. ^ Joe Utter (July 12, 2021). "Batterman Road Fire fully contained; evacuations lifted". Ephrata, Washington: iFiberOne News.
  21. ^ Bradley Warren (KHQ reporter) [@bradmwarren] (July 6, 2021). "I've seen crews from Thurston, Olympia, Kittitas, Price, Grant, Lewis, and many more here working to fight the 300 acre fire burning in Cheney" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Nico Portuondo (July 7, 2021). "Wildfires burning all over Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington; Wednesday red flag warning predicts dangerous conditions for new and existing fires". Spokesman-Review. Spokane.
  23. ^ "Dry Gulch Fire noon update". Inciweb fire incident information system. USDA, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, et al. July 10, 2021.
  24. ^ "Dry Gulch Fire general information". Inciweb fire incident information system. USDA, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, et al. July 12, 2021. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  25. ^ Lick Creek (Dry Gulch) Fire Quick Facts, Asotin County Fire District #1, July 12 11:41 PM via Facebook
  26. ^ "Lick Creek Fire general information". Inciweb fire incident information system. USDA, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, et al. July 14, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  27. ^ "Smoke Outlook for SE Washington - Lick Creek/Green Ridge". Washington smoke blog. Washington Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Health, U.S. Forest Service, Washington county health departments. July 22, 2021.
  28. ^ "Lick Creek Fire Update". Inciweb. July 26, 2021.
  29. ^ "Burbank Wildfire Morning Update". Inciweb fire incident information system. USDA, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, et al. July 12, 2021.
  30. ^ Burbank Fire final update, Inciweb, July 14, 2021
  31. ^ "7-mile stretch of North Cascades Highway closed for wildfire response". KING-TV. July 12, 2021.
  32. ^ "North Cascades Hwy. to stay closed for several more days west of Winthrop". Seattle: KOMO-TV. July 13, 2021.
  33. ^ Kyle Lamb. "Cedar Creek Fire Combines with Varden Fire, Still 0% Contained". Wenatchee: KPQ.
  34. ^ 7/22 Cedar Creek and Delancy Morning Update, Inciweb
  35. ^ "UPDATED: Cedar Creek, Cub Creek fire news, evacuations". Methow Valley News. July 22, 2021.
  36. ^ "Cedar Creek Wildfire daily update". Inciweb. August 4, 2021.
  37. ^ Nico Portuondo (July 13, 2021). "Where there's no smoke, there's still fire: Spokane fortunate to avoid smoke but luck could change at anytime". Spokesman-Review. Spokane.
  38. ^ "Wildfire smoke difficult to predict for Puget Sound". Seattle: KING-TV. July 13, 2021.
  39. ^ "Smoke rolls into Spokane; near-record heat on tap but slight reprieve forecast". Spokesman-Review. Spokane. July 13, 2021.
  40. ^ Connor Sarles (July 13, 2021). "Spokane air quality worsens to 'unhealthy for some'". Spokane: KXLY.
  41. ^ "SUMMIT TRAIL FIRE: Fire now 4,100 acres, 0 percent contained". Tribal Tribune. Nespelem, Washington. July 19, 2021.
  42. ^ Summit Trail Fire Update, July 22, 2021, Inciweb
  43. ^ "Summit Trail Fire update" (PDF). Inciweb. California Incident Management Team 10. July 26, 2021. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-07-26. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  44. ^ "Hundreds flee the flames as new wildfire erupts in Okanogan County". Seattle: KOMOTV. July 13, 2021 – via KATU.
  45. ^ Emma Epperly (July 13, 2021). "Nespelem evacuated after lightning fire burns over 10,000 acres, 7 homes". Spokesman-Review. Spokane.
  46. ^ Chuweah Creek Fire update, posted on Inciweb 7/15/2021, 7:15 AM
  47. ^ Christine Clarridge (July 16, 2021). "Chuweah Creek fire in Washington burns 53 square miles, 14 structures". The Seattle Times.
  48. ^ Pete O'Cain; Luke Hollister. "Update: Chuweah Creek Fire 37,283 as containment crews work around the clock". Wenatchee World.
  49. ^ "Updates given on Summit Trail, Upper Lime Creek, and Chuweah Creek Fires". The Star. Grand Coulee, Washington.
  50. ^ Elise Takahama (July 15, 2021). "Officers search home believed to be origin of fire outside Wenatchee". The Seattle Times – via The Columbian.
  51. ^ "Investigators: Red Apple Fire was started by humans". Tacoma: KCPQ-TV. July 17, 2021.
  52. ^ Shawn Goggins (July 14, 2021). "Chelan County Sheriff's Office reveals likely cause of Red Apple Fire; search warrant executed at local home". Ephrata, Washington: iFiberOne News.
  53. ^ Christine Clarridge (July 14, 2021). "Red Apple fire near Wenatchee prompts evacuations". The Seattle Times.
  54. ^ O'Cain, Pete (20 July 2021). "Update | Red Apple Fire 90% contained". The Wenatchee World.
  55. ^ "Evacuations in place for Red Apple fire burning 4,000 acres in Chelan County". Spokane: KHQ. July 14, 2021.
  56. ^ "State of emergency declared in Chelan County as Red Apple Fire grows to 9,000 acres". Seattle: KING-TV. July 14, 2021.
  57. ^ "Red Apple fire grows to 11,000 acres, evacuation orders in place". The Seattle Times. July 15, 2021.
  58. ^ Pete O'Cain (July 18, 2021). "Update: Red Apple Fire 90% contained". Wenatchee World.
  59. ^ Sydney Brown (July 17, 2021). "New fires erupt, prompting immediate evacuations near Rice and Winthrop as forecast remains unclear". Spokesman-Review. Spokane.
  60. ^ Cub Creek 2 Evening Update, Inciweb, July 18, 2021
  61. ^ Washington air monitoring network air quality program, Washington State Department of Ecology Twisp–Ewell St., 7/19/2021 09:00 data (AQI 501, hazardous [maximum possible value])
  62. ^ 7/20 Cub Creek 2 Morning Update, Inciweb
  63. ^ "'Good news' for Puget Sound smoke forecast despite ongoing wildfires". Mynorthwest.com (KIRO radio/TV). July 20, 2021.
  64. ^ "BREAKING: Cedar Creek, Cub Creek fires force level 3 evacuations". Methow Valley News. Twisp, Washington. July 20, 2021.
  65. ^ Cub Creek 2 fire information page, Inciweb 7/23/2021, 8:13:18 AM update
  66. ^ "UPDATED: Cedar Creek, Cub Creek fire news, evacuationsv". Methow Valley News. July 26, 2021.
  67. ^ "Cub Creek 2 Fire Morning Update". Inciweb. USDA, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, et al. July 28, 2021.
  68. ^ "Cub Creek 2 Fire update". Inciweb. August 3, 2021.
  69. ^ "With fires 'smashing records,' state closes DNR lands in Eastern Washington". Mynorthwest.com (KIRO radio/TV). July 20, 2021. The temporary closure will apply to DNR-managed state lands, conservation areas, community forests, and any associated roads, trails, campgrounds, and recreational sites or recreational facilities.
  70. ^ Marcy Stamper (July 21, 2021). "Smoky conditions pose health risks". Methow Valley News.
  71. ^ Nico Portuondo (July 22, 2021). "Spokane air quality takes a turn for the worse as Methow Valley experiences unhealthiest air quality in nation". Spokesman-Review. Spokane.
  72. ^ Connor Sarles (July 25, 2021). "Methow Valley sees worst air quality in the U.S. once again". Spokane: KXLY.
  73. ^ @NWSSpokane (July 23, 2021). "Judging by this website, and discarding some assumed bad data points, #Methow might have the poorest air quality on the planet this morning" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  74. ^ "Schneider Springs fire grows to 7,000 acres, still 0% contained". 12 August 2021.
  75. ^ "Smoke from Canada arrives, air quality alert issued for some parts of Puget Sound". The Seattle Times. August 12, 2021.
  76. ^ Schneider Springs Fire, Inciweb. Accessed August 18, 2021.
  77. ^ Twenty-Five Mile Fire information, Inciweb, accessed August 19, 2021

External links[edit]

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