Heading for a reunion and coming into the picturesque valley that holds Wenatchee, we saw little of the hundreds of acres of apple trees that have made the area famous. Clouds and walls of smoke obscured them. For days, dry hills in Eastern Washington State have been under attack by wildfires. A postcard in the hotel room shows the valley on a clear day.
Governor Chris Gregoire has banned agricultural and other outdoor burning and signed an emergency declaration for all counties east of the Cascade mountains. People in some areas have been told to stand by for possible evacuation orders. Firefighters have come into the area from throughout the Pacific Northwest. Helicopters are dumping thousands of gallons of water on the fires. There is no rain in the forecast. So far, no houses have been lost to the fire, but in no sense are people breathing easy. Health officials declare the air quality hazardous. If you spend much time outsidenot recommendedsmoke gets in your eyes, your throat, your hair, your clothing. It’s best to stay inside and listen to Clifford Brown.