Fire in the Distance and Smoke on the Rise: The Nakia Creek Fire


Raylen Satterwhite, Co-Editor in Chief

The fire season is the season when it rains ashes, the sun looks a hazy orange, and there’s a dystopian landscape from fog and smoke. This year it has struck again, but, a bit closer to home. In the past few years, several fires in Oregon have had notable effects. Past fires include the Eagle Creek Fire and the Almeda Fire. Even fires from California have caused major smoke and ash to sweep into Vancouver. This year, in Clark County the fire posed a similar yet different threat.

According to the site called the Incident Information System, a government-level site, the Nakia Creek fire was reported on Sunday, October 9th at 3:45 in the afternoon. The fire’s creation was classified as a human cause. Two women and two men, who had a “light-colored Subaru” were suspected to have started the fire. Speculators think the cause of the fire was due to fireworks being set off, which is incredibly similar to the Eagle Creek Fire a few years ago. KGW, a local news site, also drew this conclusion, having said that the Officials who investigated found it likely. However, the fireworks have not been confirmed as the cause. The fire location is near Larch Mountain, home to many beautiful trails and greenery. The fire burned around 2,000 acres, which is roughly the size of 1515 football fields.

Even in Nakia’s travesty, students at Union High School continued attending school even with the smoky conditions and marked evacuation zones. On Sunday and Monday, the 16th and 17th, many of Union High School’s students were in evacuation zones and were affected by unhealthy air conditions. At one point, the air quality was 254 which is in the unhealthy range.

When it comes to the smoky conditions Kelly voiced, “I have had a runny nose a bit. It has given me a headache. We still had swim practice even though it was kinda of smokey outside. But the pool was not.” Lauren talked about a similar experience. “At dance, it gets really hot in the rooms because we’re not allowed to open the windows.” She added about the smoke, “It’s getting harder to breathe.” She laughed, “Well I was planning to go outside this week but that’s not happening.” Kayla was also a swimmer in a level 1 evacuation zone, “It’s affecting my swimming a little bit, cause we swim outdoors, so they had to put a bubble over the pool so we don’t have as much trouble with breathing cause of the weather. It makes it a little harder to breathe, it’s just a little harder to catch my breath when I’m outside.” Overall, the whole school was affected in different ways.

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Principal Peyton had insight on the school precautions, “At one point we were on the cusp of being in that first zone.” However, when it came to the school function, variables had changed, and the Principal elaborated, “We’ve had to ban outdoor activities, everything from classes that might have had something planned outside;” He continued, “[to] all P.E. classes remain[ing] inside,[and to] any extra-curricular activity after school, have been affected.” When it came to the future of the Nakia CreekFire, the Principal had plans and precautions to set in stone, “Logistically, having to reschedule a lot of events is gonna be a challenge. Because there are already things scheduled [and our] campus is busy every single day.” He concluded, “Additionally, making sure that if there is any one part of our school community that’s been negatively impacted, [we’re] making sure that we’re aware and doing whatever we can do to take care of them.” Although, from the student perspective, things are more small scale.

Brooklynn said, “During the weekend my home was about a 2, and then it got dropped down as the fire was contained.” The levels of evacuation varied. Being in a level 2 evacuation zone, the fire had a possibility to burn her home. She said, “I think mostly it has kinda scared me because of all of the things I had in my house that I and my family had to pack up, just in case we had to leave at some point. During the middle of the night, my mom said, “We have to do this because we probably will have to leave.” But luckily we didn’t, so it was just kind of a panicky experience.”

Tatum who was in the first zone has been affected a notable amount as well, “It’s been giving me a headache, and then also, my uncle is in stage 3 of evacuation. When he got the evacuation notice he had to pack up, make sure his house was fire safe, and make sure the cats were okay.” When asked about how the smoke had affected her, she reasoned, “Not that much because I’m not doing a fall sport, it’s just limiting the amount of time I’m willing to go outside.” Many students were affected by the smoke and fire. Payton, who is in the first zone said, “Right now I’m not able to do my sport right now. We’re not allowed to do anything outside and pretty much I’m just not able to do something outside.” Payton mentioned that he was on the cross-country team. Ella is too. She isn’t in an evacuation zone, but she said, “Country districts is canceled.” To be exact, postponed from the 19th to the 21st.

The Nakia Creek Fire wrapped up the warm temperatures and the fire season. With the rain returning, the Nakia Fire is now under control and will likely be a thing of the past by next week. It showed the school how lucky we are to have such a nice rainy season. It is interesting, though, that human negligence has been shown repetitively in environmental issues. This fire as well as past fires has shown just that. It’s a valuable lesson and one hopefully individuals can learn from and change so that we don’t worsen the fire season in the future.