wildfires | KUOW News and Information

wildfires

It's Raining, But Wildfire Season Is Starting In Washington

Apr 14, 2017

Despite a wet and windy spring, wildfire season officially begins in Washington state Saturday. Oregon’s fire season typically begins next month, depending on weather conditions.

As the season begins, fire officials caution people working in the woods or clearing land to have fire prevention equipment on hand.

Washington’s Department of natural resources responded to small wildfires in two of the state’s northernmost counties this week. But land managers don’t believe the blazes are harbingers of what’s to come just yet. 



Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said 2.7 million acres of state land is in poor health and some of that is at risk of catastrophic wildfire.

The Northwest has had above-average snowpack and rain in many areas this winter. That’s good -- it’s wiped out drought. But all that water has wildland fire managers concerned about the terrain’s greening cheatgrass.

Wildfires can start when lightning strikes or when someone fails to put out a campfire. New research shows that people start a lot more fires than lightning does — so much so that people are drastically altering wildfire in America.

Fire ecologist Melissa Forder says about 60 percent of fires in national parks are caused by humans: "intentionally set fires, buildings burning and spreading into the forest, smoking, equipment malfunctions and campfires."

Two juveniles have been arrested and charged with arson for allegedly starting the fire that killed at least 14 people in east Tennessee last month. They might be tried as adults, and authorities say there might be more arrests.

Prosecutors say the two minors started a fire on Nov. 23, according to a statement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Some Northwest cities, counties and private developers are going beyond the minimums in the state building codes to reduce wildfire risk. They're banning shingle roofs and requiring fire-resistant siding. They're also making homeowners mind their landscaping.

Firefighters lit off two prescribed fires Thursday in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in central Washington state. It’s part of a wider $800,000 state pilot project to prevent huge fires like the Carlton Complex two years ago.

Lighter Winds Help Firefighters At 'Old Lady Creek' Fire

Sep 13, 2016

Washington State Patrol Fire Marshall Bill Slosson said weather conditions are favorable Tuesday for battling the ‘Old Lady Creek’ fire — 20 miles east of Goldendale, Washington.

It has burned one home and is threatening approximately 40 others.

“We’ve got five wildland strike teams of engines, which are brush trucks, working this fire today. Along with couple of 20 person hand crews," Slosson said.

"And we just ordered a helicopter from the department of Natural Resources.”

  The Cayuse Mountain Fire has been the second largest in Washington state this summer. The blaze consumed 14 homes and displaced up to 50 people on the Spokane Indian Reservation. But the community is trying to get back to normal life.

In Idaho, a wildfire has burned nearly 250 square miles of forest and is growing quickly. About 157,000 acres are currently on fire in Boise National Forest in the western part of the state, northeast of Boise.

The blaze, known as the Pioneer Fire, has been burning for several weeks, but hot, dry weather this week caused the wildfire to get much larger.

Scott Graf of Boise State Public Radio reports for NPR's Newscast Unit:

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.

Pages