Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Oregon forestry officials say the state’s wildfires have scorched at least 822 square miles (2,128 square. kilometers) . That’s an area more than half the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Jim Gersbach said that the estimated cost to fight the fires so far is at least $238.5 million dollars. Oregon wildfires burned 885 square miles (2,292 square kilometers) in 2015.

The state’s wildfire season usually ends in mid-October when soaking rains arrive. Gersbach says this year’s fire season began later than normal this year because of a wet winter and spring. He says the brush, trees and downed timber that fuel fires are now dry and ready to burn hot when ignited.

People in Oregon covered their faces with scarves to keep choking ash from wildfires from filling their lungs and wiped the soot from windshields.

Some long-time residents say what they’re doing similar to they had to do in 1980 during the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens when ash poured over the region.

The growing blaze is east of Portland, Oregon in the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

It is one of dozens of wildfires burning in western U.S. states that sent smoke into cities from Seattle to Denver. The fires have prompted health warnings and cancellations of outdoor activities for children by many school districts. (AP)

See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr.

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Flames are visible from the Washington side of the Columbia River above the Bonneville Dam in North Bonneville, Wash., as a wildfire moves west, on Sept. 6, 2017. (Photo: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

A sign board at the McKenzie River Ranger Station makes clear the fire danger level in the Willamette National Forest, on Sept. 6, 2017 in Blue River, Ore. Several fires are burning in the area. (Photo: Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

A wildfire burns through residential areas near the mouth of Weber Canyon near Ogden, Utah, on Sept. 5, 2017. (Photo: Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

A helicopter with a water bucket flies through dense smoke near Stevenson, Wash., on Sept. 6, 2017, as it works to battle the Eagle Creek wildfire on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. (Photo: Randy L. Rasmussen/AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

A caution tape warns visitors to Multnomah Falls east of Troutdale, Ore., on Sept. 6, 2017 after the Eagle Creek (Photo: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Neighbors watch a wildfire burn through residential areas near the mouth of Weber Canyon near Ogden, Utah, Sept. 5, 2017. (Photo: Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

A barricade closes the Bridge of the Gods, spanning the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, near Stevenson, Wash., on Sept. 6, 2017. (Photo: Randy L. Rasmussen/AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

A hiker and two others look at smoke from the Eagle Creek wildfire on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge from the Bridge of the Gods, spanning the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, near Stevenson, Wash., on Sept. 6, 2017. (Photo: Randy L. Rasmussen/AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Pedestrians walk off the Bridge of the Gods, which spans the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, as smoke from the Eagle Creek wildfire obscures the Oregon hills in the background near Stevenson, Wash., on Sept. 6, 2017. (Photo: Randy L. Rasmussen/AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Wildfire as seen from near Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River, burning in the Columbia River Gorge above Cascade Locks, Ore., Sept. 4, 2017. (Photo: Tristan Fortsch/KATU-TV via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

The Eagle Creek fire has been burning in the Columbia River Gorge since Sept. 2, 2017. The wildfire threatened the Multnomah Falls Lodge, Sept. 5, 2017. (Photo: Jim Ryan/Staff)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

This Sept. 4, 2017, photo provided by Inciweb shows a wildfire burning in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland, Ore. A lengthy stretch of highway Interstate 84 remains closed Tuesday, Sept. 5, as crews battle the growing wildfire that has also caused evacuations and sparked blazes across the Columbia River in Washington state. (Photo: Inciweb via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

People at a viewpoint overlooking the Columbia River watching the Eagle Creek wildfire burning in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland, Ore., Sept. 4, 2017. (Photo: Inciweb via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Jason Wheeler looks out across the Columbia River from the north side of Bridge of the Gods at the smoky community of Cascade Locks, Ore. Sept. 5, 2017 after being evacuated from his home yesterday. (Photo: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

The Eagle Creek fire has been burning in the Columbia River Gorge since Sept. 2, 2017. (Photo: Jim Ryan/Staff)/The Oregonian via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Wildfire as seen from near Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River, burning in the Columbia River Gorge above Cascade Locks, Ore., Sept. 4, 2017. (Photo: Tristan Fortsch/KATU-TV via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

This Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, photo provided by KATU-TV shows a wildfire as seen from near Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River, burning in the Columbia River Gorge above Cascade Locks, Ore. (Photo: Tristan Fortsch/KATU-TV via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

The Eagle Creek fire has been burning in the Columbia River Gorge since Sept. 2, 2017. (Photo: Jim Ryan/The Oregonian via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Fire burns in the Eagle Creek area of Columbia River Gorge, Sept. 2, 2017. (Photo: Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

The Eagle Creek wildfire burning in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland, Ore. A lengthy stretch of highway Interstate 84 remains closed Sept. 5, 2017, as crews battle the growing Eagle Creek wildfire that has also caused evacuations and sparked blazes across the Columbia River in Washington state. (Photo: Inciweb via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

People check out the smoky view of the Eagle Creek fire from North Bonneville Dam and Beacon Rock in the Columbia River Gorge on , Sept. 5, 2017. Fire officials say an Oregon wildfire in the scenic Columbia River Gorge has grown to nearly 16 square miles and is threatening homes. Residents of about 400 homes have been forced to evacuate, while others have been warned to get ready. (Photo: Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

This Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, photo provided by KATU-TV shows a wildfire as seen from near Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River, burning in the Columbia River Gorge above Cascade Locks, Ore. (Photo: Tristan Fortsch/KATU-TV via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

Oregon Department of Transportation vehicles block Interstate 84 at Troutdale, Ore., Sept. 5, 2017 as smoke hangs in the air of a seven-square mile (18-square kilometers) fire that started Saturday. (Photo: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

The Eagle Creek wildfire burns in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland, Ore. A lengthy stretch of highway Interstate 84 remains closed Sept. 5, 2017, as crews battle the growing Eagle Creek wildfire that has also caused evacuations and sparked blazes across the Columbia River in Washington state. (Photo: Inciweb via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

This Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, photo provided by KATU-TV shows a wildfire as seen from near Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River, burning in the Columbia River Gorge above the Bonneville Dam near Cascade Locks, Ore. (Photo: Tristan Fortsch/KATU-TV via AP)

Wildfires burn out of control in Pacific Northwest

A smoky view of the Eagle Creek fire from North Bonneville Dam and Beacon Rock in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon on Sept. 5, 2017. (Photo: Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP)

What to Read Next