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wildfires

Wildfire Smoke Pollution Is Worse Than We Thought

Jun 16, 2017

All that black smoke you see floating up from a wildfire — it’s full of small particles that are bad for your lungs and heart.

It turns out, the small particles are a lot worse than researchers previously thought. A new study found there are three times as much pollution in wildfire smoke plumes than predicted from earlier estimates.

Fire Managers Declare Start To Fire Season In Oregon

Jun 7, 2017

The Oregon Department of Forestry says wildfire season has officially begun in four regions of the state.

Mike Shaw is the district forester for ODF’s Central Oregon district. He said this year’s heavy snowpack made for a slightly later-than-usual start to the season.

“As the snowpack melts and recedes to higher elevation, the lower- and mid-elevation ground becomes available to burn, provided we don’t get much spring rain,” Shaw said.

Megafires are the kind of wildland fires that grow beyond 100,000 acres. And they are a growing threat across the American West. That’s why one federal scientist in the Northwest is hitting the road with his research.

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.

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.

Officials from the Hanford nuclear reservation and Energy Northwest have been meeting with fire managers in southeast Washington state Tuesday. The nearby Range 12 Fire has grown to more than 177,000 acres and high winds are predicted this evening.

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