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August 16, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Higher Temperatures Make for Tougher Firefighting

Fire crews gather in Hidden Valley as the battle to contain the Taylor Bridge wildfire continued Thursday. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

CLE ELUM — Firefighters battling the Taylor Bridge wildfire are facing a hotter day Thursday than Wednesday, with temperatures likely to reach 85 degrees on the ridges, 95 degrees in the valleys.

“Winds are still relatively light, but the temperature is up and humidity is down,” Mick Mueller, an incident command spokesman, said Thursday morning. “That’s going to make for active firefighting today.”

Firefighters are also expecting gusts of wind from 15 to 20 miles per hour late this afternoon.

Conditions may get worse as the weekend approaches. The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Warning for Friday and Saturday, and temperatures could break 100 degrees in the valleys, especially in the lowlands along the Yakima River and near Ellensburg, on the fire’s southeastern flank. Isolated thunderstorms and lightning strikes are also possible on Saturday.

Air quality is another matter.

“I know people are concerned,” said Marna Carroll, 42, the summer coordinator at a historic mill in Thorp, southeast of the fire. A group of older people had been scheduled to tour the mill on Thursday but canceled at the last minute, she said, partly because of the air quality.

The air has also been smoky in Hidden Valley, to the north of the fire, where Dale Johnson wore a surgical mask while working outdoors Wednesday. And when Carroll took her daughter swimming in Ellensburg, she brought her to Memorial Pool — an indoor facility.

“You notice that kind of around town not many people are hanging out outside,” she said.

Comments | Topics: Cle Elum, Taylor Bridge Fire, weather

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