Fire in Washington Blows Toxic Air to Seattle

A rare westerly wind and rain showers offered a respite to fire response teams as they fought to keep a wildfire from reaching populated areas near Washington State’s Cascade Mountains on Sunday, a fire official said.

The Bolt Creek fire broke out sometime Saturday morning and spread rapidly westward over the course of the day, prompting an evacuation order for the small town of Index, Wash., and choking the Seattle area 40 miles to the west with smoke and ash. About 7,600 acres were affected by the fire as of early Sunday morning, with 500 structures in the evacuation zone. So far, there have been no reports of injuries or damaged property.

The rain and change in wind direction were cause for optimism, said Peter Mongillo, a spokesman with Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue.

“We’ll see what the weather holds,” Mr. Mongillo said early Sunday morning. “Once the sun comes up, the weather starts changing.”

Easterly winds pushed smoke and ash from the fire toward Seattle on Saturday, causing the air quality to turn toxic. Later, even with fresh air blowing in from the west, air quality in the Puget Sound area, including Seattle, was still considered hazardous on Sunday morning.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation. The Bolt Creek fire was one of 17 large fires burning across Washington and Oregon as of Sunday morning.