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Wildfire-weary Western US coughs through late-season surge

Cascade Locks, Ore., nestled in tall fir trees alongside the Columbia River, is inundated by smoke from the nearby Eagle Creek wildfire Wednesday, Sep...
A helicopter with a water bucket flies through dense smoke near Stevenson, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, as it works to battle the Eagle Creek wild...
A firefighter maintains a spray of water on the trees around Multnomah Falls Wednesday Sept. 6, 2017 as the Eagle Creek Fire continues to burn east of...
A wildfire continues to burn on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore., and the Bridge of the Gods, late Tuesday, Sept. ...
The sun is barely visible over downtown Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, as seen through smoke from wildfires burning in the Columbia River G...
Bill Leong covers his face as a smoke fills Spokane, Wash. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.  The growing blaze east of Portland in the scenic Columbia River...
A barricade closes the Bridge of the Gods, spanning the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, near Stevenson, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 6...
A wildfire continues to burn on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore., and the Bridge of the Gods, late Tuesday, Sept. ...
This Monday Sept. 4, 2017, photo provided by KATU-TV shows the Eagle Creek wildfire as seen from Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River, burning i...

Cascade Locks, Ore., nestled in tall fir trees alongside the Columbia River, is inundated by smoke from the nearby Eagle Creek wildfire Wednesday, Sep...

A helicopter with a water bucket flies through dense smoke near Stevenson, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, as it works to battle the Eagle Creek wild...

A firefighter maintains a spray of water on the trees around Multnomah Falls Wednesday Sept. 6, 2017 as the Eagle Creek Fire continues to burn east of...

A wildfire continues to burn on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore., and the Bridge of the Gods, late Tuesday, Sept. ...

The sun is barely visible over downtown Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, as seen through smoke from wildfires burning in the Columbia River G...

Bill Leong covers his face as a smoke fills Spokane, Wash. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. The growing blaze east of Portland in the scenic Columbia River...

A barricade closes the Bridge of the Gods, spanning the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, near Stevenson, Wash., Wednesday, Sept. 6...

A wildfire continues to burn on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore., and the Bridge of the Gods, late Tuesday, Sept. ...

This Monday Sept. 4, 2017, photo provided by KATU-TV shows the Eagle Creek wildfire as seen from Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River, burning i...

A wet winter and spring in the Western U.S. brought predictions that the 2017 wildfire season would be mild. It was anything but. It ended up one of the worst in U.S. history in land burned.

The smoke, the flames, the aching lungs, the evacuations. They're summertime facts of life in the U.S. West, where every wildfire season competes with memories of previous destruction.

The foliage that sprouted from previous rain and snow has gone bone-dry in intense heat, feeding flames in places that have not seen downpours in months and strangling cities with smoke.

The biggest fires came a little later than usual in some states, after Labor Day, when the fire season traditionally starts to peter out.


Updated : 2021-07-27 06:06 GMT+08:00