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The Department of Ecology issued a statewide air quality alert Thursday, which continues through the weekend, as smoke from many fires across the region continues to impact the state. 

Calmer winds and hazy skies helped to keep large fire growth moderated yesterday and allowed for firefighters to progress in Washington‘s fire danger zones.  The Big Hollow fire, however, in Southwest Washington still has active fire behavior with no containment.  

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) image (featured image) shows the extent of smoke that currently covers most of Western Washington and parts of Central Washington.  Smoke is expected to continue its path across the state, impacting Eastern Washington.  Overall, air quality is expected to slowly start getting better, from West to East, on Sunday. 

With such a large area experiencing poor air quality, the Department of Health recommends people to stay indoors. 

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Big Hollow Fire Update

The Northwest Incident Management Team 12 took command Friday at 6 am on the Big Hollow Fire 15 miles northwest of Carson and seven miles southeast of Cougar, Washington. Weather is expected to be partly cloudy and very smokey, with temperatures in the low to mid-70s. Light westerly winds of 7 to 12 mph are forecasted, shifting to southwesterly in the evening.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that indirect control lines are being constructed with heavy equipment and roads to protect the communities of Cougar, Chelatchie and Yale to the west. Structure protection is being implemented to protect cabins at Government Mineral Springs and the Carson National Fish Hatchery. Firefighters are also assessing the risk to structures to the north and east in the fire area. 

Closures: The Forest Service has issued area closures in the southwest portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that include most developed campgrounds, dispersed camping, day-use and wilderness areas, and most forest roads and trails within the closure area. DNR has issued closures for the Siouxon Block and recreation sites within the Merill Lake Conservation Area.

Evacuation levels 1 (ready), 2 (set), and 3 (go) are currently in use. Level 2 evacuation orders are in place for the areas around Yale Lake. Level 1 closures have been issued for the areas around Swift Reservoir and south of Lake Merwin. There is an air quality alert in place for southwest Washington and northwest Oregon for unhealthy and hazardous conditions.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provided an update Thursday evening about the Big Hollow Fire.

The DNR issued this statement:

A Type 2 incident management team will be taking over command of the fire at 0600 Friday morning.  The communities around Yale Reservoir will start to see an influx of additional firefighting resources.  The crews currently working on the western and northern fronts of the fire are developing structure protection plans, in the event they are needed.  The Level 1 (Get Ready) and Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation notices are still in effect out of an abundance of caution as we continue to experience high fire danger and very dry conditions.

Most of the fire activity and growth today was along the southwest perimeter of the fire; however this growth was not as significant as we saw over the previous 48 hours.

DNR has aviation resources available; however, the current smoke conditions make it difficult to utilize those resources.  While there is plenty of smoke coming off of the Big Hollow fire, most of the smoke that is affecting Clark County right now is actually coming from the fires burning in Oregon and California.

In addition to the Area Closure that was issued for a portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, DNR Recreation in the DNR Siouxon Block and Merrill Lake area has also been closed due to the fire and evacuation notices.  This includes recreation trails, campgrounds, and dispersed camping, and day use areas on those DNR managed lands.