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Prayers Requested as Thousands Flee 80 Western Wildfires


Dozens of wildfires are creating havoc from Montana to California, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate as others across the northwest face health hazards from the intense smoke.

The smoke and choking ash from fires in Oregon are forcing people to cover their faces with scarves just so they can breathe.

"You can't really stand outside without getting rained on" by ash, said Joanna Fisher as she walked to work in Troutdale, Oregon.

Locals in the Portland area are comparing all the ash and soot to the aftermath of the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens back in 1980.

"The particulate matter that shows up on the cars, it gets in your hair, it gets in your eyes, it's all over the place like it was in those days," said Don Hamilton, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Cities from Seattle to Denver are facing health warnings and cancellations of outdoor activities for school children.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, a federal agency that coordinates wildfire-fighting, said 80 large fires were burning on 2,200 square miles in nine Western states.

In Oregon, people living in about 700 homes in and around the Columbia River Gorge have been forced to evacuate.   

In northern California, a fire destroyed 72 homes and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 people from their houses.

In northern Utah, a fast-moving wildfire swept down a canyon Tuesday morning destroying five homes, forcing more than 1,000 people to evacuate.

Air quality alerts were issued for parts of Idaho and Spokane, Washington. The National Weather Service says it was likely to get worse in Spokane as a shift in the winds will bring in smoke from fires in Canada, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
In Montana, Glacier National Park officials recently ordered the evacuation of all residents, campers and tourists from one of the most popular areas of the park as wind gusts drove the flames toward the doorstep of an iconic lodge.

Two firefighters lost their lives fighting fires in Montana earlier this summer.

And KRTV reports Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott has asked for prayers saying: "Please keep wild land firefighters on the Lolo Peak fire and firefighters across the nation in your thoughts and prayers."

Numerous aid groups have been helping victims in western Montana, like the 406 Family Aid Foundation.

And the Missoulian reports funds and supplies are being raised for firefighters and victims across Montana. You can find that information by clicking here.

This report includes material from Associated Press.



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