WALLA WALLA -- Yes, there's smoke on the water and fire in the sky. But it has nothing to do with a vintage rock song.
Smoke from wildfires in Central Oregon has been spilling into the Walla Walla Valley, putting a definite scent in the air and a rosy-red tinge to today's sunrise.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, nine major fires are burning in the state covering about 121,205 acres, or a little more than 188 square miles. One of the largest, the Hancock Fire Complex in north-central Oregon, now covers 53,000 acres in the area of Clarno, a small town west of Fossil.
Another blaze, the Elephant Rock Fire, flared up Saturday night on the east edge of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, burning about 500 acres. That fire was about 60 percent contained Monday, according to fire officials.
Westerly winds have been blowing smoke from the fires into this area and breezy conditions today are expected to continue the trend, said Ann Adams, assistant meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Pendleton. Patchy smoke is forecast to continue through tonight.
The smell of smoke was prominent enough last night to cause some people to wonder if the blazes weren't a little closer to home.
"Is there a fire near (Milton-Freewater) tonight?" wrote one reader on the Union-Bulletin's Facebook page. "The smoke is visible in the night sky and the smell is very strong."
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318.