Washington State officials are seeking four people and a Subaru vehicle in connection with the Nakia Creek wildfire.
The fire is located around 20 miles from Portland, Oregon and went from 150 to more than 2,000 acres in the span of hours on Sunday leading to the evacuations of thousands of area residents, according to The New York Times.
Fire officials in the most northwestern state in the US are hoping to identify two men and two women who are “of interest”, in addition to their white or light-coloured car.
The group is believed to be connected to the car that was spotted on a ridge on 9 October at around 3.30pm, the Clark County fire marshal said in a Monday statement.
The fire started on that day near the area where the car was spotted.
Assistant Fire Marshal Curtis Eavenson said in a statement that “we are looking for what we believe is a white or light-colored Subaru vehicle”.
“Based on witness statements, we also believe there were two men and two women connected with this vehicle,” he added.
Nakia Creek Fire Forces Thousands To Evacuate in Washington State
The fire is burning in a steep area of the Yacolt Burn State Forest close to Camas, near the state border with Oregon.
The office of the fire marshal said in a press release that “if anyone recognizes the vehicle or people depicted in the video or has any information regarding the ongoing wildfire investigation, they are urged to contact the county’s Fire Marshal Office at (564) 397-3320”.
The fire was up to 20 per cent contained but its size skyrocketed on Sunday. Officials said the expansion was caused by high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds. Almost 3,000 homes were placed under mandatory evacuation orders in Clark County while another 33,780 were placed under a voluntary evacuation order.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office opened some roads back up on Monday afternoon as some areas previously under evacuation order were considered safe.
The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency said that some air response crews had to cease operations as winds reached up to 30 miles an hour.
“On Monday, dense fog and smoky conditions hindered the use of aircraft, removing the use of a vital resource assigned to the incident,” the Washington State Department of Natural Resources said in an update on Wednesday.
Clark County authorities noted reports of several other fires around the county, as well as in Skamania County.
At least 57 fires of note were burning in the Western US as of Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
Most of the fires have occurred in Idaho, Montana and the Pacific Northwest.
“The potential for fire growth remains and containment lines are being put in place,” Clark County authorities said on Sunday.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources added in its Wednesday update that “weather conditions overnight aided firefighters on the Nakia Creek Fire, once again decreasing natural fire behavior. Between cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity and minimal wind, flare-ups on the line were minimal and crews were able to steadily continue creating containment lines and mopping up hot spots that have the potential to spread”.
On Monday, fire officials said that the fire covered 1,565 acres, adding that it was five per cent contained.
By Wednesday, the containtment was recorded at 12 per cent, with the fire covering 1,869 acres – an increase of 73 acres compared to Tuesday morning.
“This small growth is expected as resources work to complete fire lines,” the department said.
“Firefighters working on the ground today are continuing to complete fire line and bolster existing containment lines to keep the fire in check,” the agency added. “This is extremely hard work that often involves hiking on steep terrain with a 45-pound backpack, hand tools, chainsaws and water throughout a 12-hour shift. Firefighters use these tools to break up vegetation so spreading fire hits the bare dirt and can’t grow beyond that point.”