Fire spreads in Oregon and Washington

Fires have continued to spread up the west coast of the US to the states of Oregon and Washington, with the governor of the former declaring a state of emergency for the whole region.

Image: Domaine Drouhin

Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, said yesterday that the state was experiencing “unprecedented fires” with “devastating consequences” throughout the region.

“Our number-one priority right now is saving lives. This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfires in our state’s history,” she said.

Brown confirmed that parts of some towns, including Detroit, Blue River, Vita, Phoenix and Talent, have been “substantially destroyed”.

There are currently 37 active fires raging across the state, which have burned over 670,000 acres. To date, there have been three confirmed fatalities.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality has issued an ‘air quality advisory’ for the Willamette Valley due to wind blowing smoke from fires around the Cascade mountains.

Image: Alexana Winery

Alexana Winery, which posted the picture above on social media from its 80-acre vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA, said that it remained open and has power currently, but that conditions “are somewhat in flux”.

Domaine Drouhin, however, has closed its tasting room due to power outages and unsafe air quality. Domaine Divio in the Ribbon Ridge AVA has done the same, but hopes to reopen today.

A statement from industry body Willamette Valley Wine read: “At this time we are reaching out to our friends in the industry who appear to be most impacted based on the available and ever-dynamic intel. As a community we are waiting to see how best we can support those in immediate need. As safety is a top priority, we ask that visitors please call ahead to assess the situation because air quality and power outages are also issues. We are also working with industry partners to ensure we are collectively apprised of the most recent data so we can work as a team to support each other as needed.”

Image: Domaine Drouhin

Meanwhile, in Washington, more than 330,000 acres of land has burned in a 24-hour period, the state’s governor Jay Inslee reported.

The town of Malden in eastern Washington has been 80% destroyed by flames and a child has died in the so-called Cold Springs Fire.

Heather Bradshaw, communications director at the Washington State Wine Commission told Wine Searcher that fires have affected “both sides of the Cascade Mountains”.

She said that as things stand, wine producers “are not yet concerned about harm to grapes” but stressed that the situation was “ever-changing”.

“It’s just too early for us to make any concrete assumptions or predictions. Of course we are hoping that we’ve seen the worst of it. We do know that we’re expecting hot temperatures this week, which may lead to a fast and condensed harvest in many parts of the Columbia Valley. The quality of the 2020 fruit is exceptional at this point,” she added.

the drinks business has contacted both the Oregon Wine Board and the Washington State Wine Commission for an update on the situation.

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