wildfires

Human-Caused Fires Strain Resources In The Northwest

3 hours ago

Ninety-seven large wildfires have burned on 1.5 million acres across Oregon and Washington this season. Of those fires, 43 were started by lightning. At least 12 were human-caused, but dozens more remain under investigation.

Fire managers in the Northwest say the recent rain doesn't mean the wildfire danger is over. Some parts of the Northwest got more than an inch of rain in the last week of August.

Tom Zbyszewski
Courtesy of Jesse Michener

Among the three firefighters who lost their lives last month fighting the wildfires in Okanogon was one with a connection to poetry. Tom Zbyszewski, 20, grew up in the Methow Valley.

That got KUOW's literary producer and Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen thinking about how Pacific Northwest poets have responded to wildfires. She talked with Marcie Sillman about poems by Kevin Goodan and Nance Van Winckel.

A wildfire can burn more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s more than twice as hot as the surface of Venus. Its flames can reach more than 50 meters high.

Wildfires can get so big that they create their own weather systems, with hurricane force winds. On the ground, the average wildfire moves twice as fast as the average person can run.

How do wildland firefighters tame such an inferno?

Daniel Lyon is seen this summer, his first season as a firefighter.
Courtesy Lyon Family

Daniel Lyon, the firefighter severely injured during the deadly Twisp River Fire, is slowly making progress but not out of danger, his doctors said Tuesday.

Smoke from wildfires in the Northwest stream in this photo taken from the International Space Station.
NASA

Marcie Sillman speaks with Sarah Mirk, online editor for Bitch Media, about what Portlanders are doing in response to Oregon's drought. (Hint: not much.)

Kent Stokes says hundreds of miles of fenceline will have to be rebuilt after last year's Carlton Complex and this year's Okanogan Complex wildfires. Cattle ranchers depend on good fences and good neighbors to manage thier lands well.
N3 Photo/Ian C. Bates

In the poem “Mending Wall,” Robert Frost lays down the well-worn quote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” In this year’s dramatic Northwest wildfires, ranchers and neighbors are cutting down “good fences” of all kinds.

'Good' Forest Fires: Should Smokey Bear Retire?

Aug 31, 2015
A roadside sign warns of fire danger during the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho in 2013.
Flickr photo/U.S. Department of Agriculture (CC BY 2.0)

David Hyde talks to former firefighter and environmental historian Stephen Pyne, who says we should retire Smokey Bear and light more "good" fires.

Rob Palmer, whose brother was killed in a wildfire, says the Wildland Firefighter Foundation provides support to families of the fallen.
Flickr photo/Washington Department of Natural Resources

Marcie Sillman speaks with former wildland firefighter Rob Palmer about his brother Andy Palmer. Andy Palmer died while fighting fires in California in 2008, in what became known as the Dutch Creek Incident.

Wildfires continue to burn across the state and it's hitting ranchers hard in central Washington.

More than 1,000 square miles of wildfires are burning in Washington state. In the remote Okanogan Valley in the north-central part of the state, many cattle ranchers are scrambling to save their herds.

Ranchers in Omak, Wash., have lost animals, barns, pasture and winter haystacks to the wildfires. But some people still have their cattle, and at the town's Ag Tech Feed Store, owners Monte and Laurie Andrews are trying to help keep those ranchers in business.

USFS Spends $10M Per Day On Wildfires In Oregon

Aug 28, 2015

Around the region, thick smoke has become commonplace as homes and other structures have been destroyed.

Fire managers said Friday they expect this fire season to last until through September and well into October.

Lawmakers are hoping a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate could help with mounting costs. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D) and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R) are working with other western senators to change the way wildfire suppression gets funded.

The bill would pay for wildfires out of a disaster account, similar to clean up from hurricanes and tornadoes.

Multiple times this summer, the sighting of a wayward hobbyist drone has grounded aerial firefighting aircraft at Western wildfires. But unmanned aircraft have the potential to be useful at wildfires too.

A DC-10 flies over Chelan within hours of a wildfire starting on Aug. 14. Sunbathers on holiday watched as the fire effort took hold.
Flickr Photo/Ben Brooks (CC BY-SA 2.0) http://bit.ly/1KSv09n

It was a hot Friday morning when a bolt of lightning stretched out three fingers and hit Chelan Butte.

Then a deafening clap of thunder. Then several rings of fire appeared. They would morph into huge wildfires threatening Chelan, a tourist destination in central Washington state.

Ben Brooks, a digital media manager from Fife, Washington, started taking photos. His images are striking and remarkable because of the sunbathers in the corners of his images. 

The Washington drought report for Aug. 26, 2015.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Washington is seeing fire and rain this weekend, as huge wildfires burn in Chelan and Okanogan counties and a major storm bears down on the western part of the state.

“There is a potent, juicy system headed our way,” state climatologist Nick Bond told KUOW's Marcie Sillman.

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