Oregon blaze sparks eruption comparisons

PHOTO: The Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon surrounds Munra Point in the Columbia River Gorge, Photo Date: 9/4/17

TROUTDALE, Ore. (AP) - People in Oregon covered their faces with scarves to keep choking ash from wildfires from filling their lungs and wiped the soot from windshields, similar to what long-time residents said they had to do in 1980 during the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens.

The growing blaze east of Portland, Oregon, in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, was one of dozens of wildfires burning in western U.S. states that sent smoke into cities from Seattle to Denver - prompting health warnings and cancellations of outdoor activities for children by many school districts.

The 16-square mile (41-square kilometers) fire east of Portland forced hundreds of home evacuations. And embers from the fire drifted in the air across the Columbia River - sparking blazes in neighboring Washington state.

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