2 large fires threaten Central Washington
As forecasters nervously watch the hot weather, two fires in Central Washington that broke out this week continue to threaten homes. The Mills Canyon Fire, south of Entiat, started Tuesday and is still raging across 18,065 acres. With only 19 percent of the fire contained, 646 firefighters are fighting to control it. Highway 97A was closed again this morning, with a portion of the unburned area now burning, said public information officer Laurie Dowie. Evacuations have been ordered in four different locations in Entiat and threaten 164 structures. Three outbuildings have been damaged along the Entiat River.
The 25 Mile Creek Fire, west of Chelan, Thursday but crews made significant progress overnight, according to spokesman Rick Acosta. The fire has burned 400 acres and residents of six homes along Shady Pass Road have been asked to evacuate. Four twenty-person crews are working to contain the fire. “We’re very optimistic at quelling the fire,” Acosta said, “unless unforeseen events occur.”
Both fires’ causes are under investigation and there are no reported fatalities or injures as of yet. — J.B.
Fire status map at 10 a.m Friday Northwest Interagency Coordination Center
Microsoft: Layoffs for 10 percent of workers?
GeekWire's Todd Bishop reports that a veteran financial analyst is predicting that Microsoft will lay off 5 to 10 percent of its workforce as part of the transformation company CEO Satya Nadella has been outlining this week. Part of the job losses would involve the recent acquisition of Nokia, which Microsoft has said would lead to substantial cost reductions — presumably including layoffs — over an 18-month period. — J.C.
Blueberry bumper crop
Like those low prices for blueberries in stores? Washington farmers are growing more blueberries, according to the Washington Blueberry Commission. Over the past half-century, state farmers have gone from having essentially zero blueberries to ranking fourth nationally in production of blues. Dr. Alan Schreiber says in a statement that a quarter of all blueberry acreage here is organic — particularly good news if you listen to Washington State University research ranking organic berries higher than conventional on a number of scores, including nutritional content. — J.C.
Fun and travel under the sun
It's summer, the weather is perfect and you want to go to everything that's going on! And there's so much to do: As a Seattle city advisory notes, "–Seafair is taking over the City with events happening over the coming days in communities throughout Seattle." In the city alone, there's the West Seattle Summer Fest, the Ballard Seafood Fest, the Milk Carton Derby on Saturday at Green Lake, just for starters. And there's the STP bike classic with waves of cyclists taking off early Saturday from the UW on the way to Portland. (Good luck to all the riders, who have worked so hard to prepare.)
As the city notes, however, planning for traffic conditions is smart. And there's the little matter of the Highway 520 Floating Bridge: closed — again — for the entire weekend. Great weather, it turns out, is also great for construction. Speaking of which, the state is starting to put out alerts about the week-long closure of all but one westbound lane of I-90 that begins next Friday night (July 18). Details here. It's to replace aging expansion joints — you know, like the one that popped up on I-5 and shut Seattle down last December. In return, you'll be assured of fewer travel inconveniences on the dreary winter Mondays when you'd rather just stay at home. — J.C.
Amazon drones: Coming to a sky near you?
Amazon, which has been talking since last year about its desire to deliver packages by drone, has formally asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to expand its testing outside of research laboratories.
Currently, Amazon can only test its aircraft inside its Seattle lab or outdoors in other countries, but the company wants to test outdoors near Seattle, according to a Seattle Times article. Over the long run, Amazon wants to deliver packages under 5 pounds via drones that can reach a speed of more than 50 miles per hour. Since 86 percent of Amazon delivers are lightweight, the company believes delivery by drone will increase efficiency by getting packages to customers faster. — J.B.
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