wildfires

After two years of some of the worst fires and smoke the Northwest has ever seen, Washington’s Methow Valley is catching its breath. Dozens of businesses didn’t make it through and the fires still throw a long shadow.

A menacing wildfire continues to threaten an Indian Reservation 50 miles north of Spokane. But the blaze could have a positive impact on one local business.

An interagency incident management team has taken over the Hart Fire burning on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The wildfire spread rapidly onto tribal land, but response hasn’t kept up with the pace of the blaze. Strong winds spread the fire fast enough to force an initial attack crew to flee.

A series of intense wildfire seasons has taken a toll on the Oregon Department of Forestry. That's according to an audit released Tuesday by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday declared a state of emergency in 20 counties mostly on the dry side of the Cascades, an area vulnerable to wildfire. Resources are stretched thin in the battle to save homes and property.

When a fast-moving, erratic wildfire ignites, firefighters right away try to save homes and steer the flames away from life and property. But experts say the real danger often occurs in the hours after the big wall of flames rips through.

Spokane, Washington, the state’s second largest city, found itself surrounded by flames Monday after high winds and heat Sunday caused the rapid spread of three separate wildfires.

In southeast Washington, the Range 12 Fire is finally out. But now there’s 176,600 acres of black. And it’s roasted much of the valuable habitat on the Hanford Reach National Monument.

A bipartisan coalition of Western U.S. lawmakers has renewed a call to change how the federal government pays to put out big forest fires. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management divert money from fire prevention and other programs to pay firefighting costs during bad fire years.

More than 100 people attended a Forest Service community meeting in John Day Tuesday to discuss last summer’s Canyon Creek Fire.

Many residents in Grant County still have questions or bitterness about the massive Canyon Creek fire that destroyed 43 homes. Agency leaders said the meeting was necessary for the community to heal, and they wanted to give residents a chance to voice questions. And people did have questions.

More than 20 fires were sparked in eastern Oregon over the weekend — mostly in Baker and Malheur counties.

Though only four of those fires were significant in size, said Robyn Broyles with the National Interagency Fire Center, a majority were caused by lightning strikes throughout the Northwest.

"There's quite a bit of lightning that came in to our general area that came up from the southwest and spread northwest coming across Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon," said Broyles. "Essentially a lightning pattern came across the corners of those states."

It's a warm, sunny morning at the Homestead National Monument of America in southeastern Nebraska. A burn crew dressed in yellow and green flame-resistant clothing is about to set a patch of tall-grass prairie on fire — on purpose.

Sunset on Sept. 13, 2012 in Seatac. The deep red color was caused by smoke from numerous forest fires buring in the Cascade Mountains.
Flickr Photo/Brett Curtiss CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/2au4fiI

It wasn’t the aroma of Tacoma on Tuesday.

It was the smoky smell of Seattle.

Not like barbecue, though. More like a light tree fumée.

Tuesday’s high winds set two major new fires raging in Washington state. One ripped across grassy eastern Washington flats near Moses Lake and the other up a steep canyon near the Snake River and Pullman.

The Range 12 Fire in southeast Washington has destroyed some of the most sensitive shrub steppe habitat in the nation.

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