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wildfires

After Fires In West, Mushroom Hunters 'Chase The Burn'

Apr 20, 2016

Right now, and in the coming weeks, from Northern California to Alaska, commercial and amateur mushroom hunters will be scouring hills that were ravaged by fires last summer and fall. Their prey? Morel mushrooms.

"Sometimes we call it 'chasing the burns,' " mushroom enthusiast Kevin Sadlier says, in search of the black morel mushrooms that grow in the springtime after a forest fire.

A plane dumps fire retardant on a ballooning wildfire on Aug. 14.
Flickr Photo/Ben Brooks (CC BY-SA 2.0) bit.ly/1KSulVD

Bill Radke speaks with Trevor McConchie, firefighter with the Department of Natural Resources, about this year's wildfire season and how people can prepare. Find out how to defend and prepare your home for wildfire season.

Klamath Forest Wildfire Plan Faces Pushback

Mar 29, 2016

During the summer of 2014, wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres of the Klamath National Forest in northern California’s Siskiyou County. Last year, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a program of salvage logging, replanting and hazardous tree removal. That plan faced opposition from environmental groups and the Karuk Indian tribe. Now, a modified version of the plan has been approved, and was immediately met with a challenge in federal court.

Idaho counties could declare federal forestland within their borders to be a "catastrophic public nuisance" under a measure approved by an Idaho legislative committee Tuesday.

A few short months from now, federal and state foresters around the West will purposely set controlled burns to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires later. This is a regular practice in Oregon, Idaho and California, but much less common in Washington state.

A proposed summertime ban on consumer fireworks is firing people up at the Washington state Capitol. It’s just one of many ideas being floated in Northwest statehouses to avoid a repeat of last summer's bad wildfire season.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will roll out his proposed update to the state’s two-year budget on Thursday. One of the chief spending items will be paying for last summer’s fire season.

The preliminary investigation of a deadly wildfire in August gives a detailed account of how three Forest Service firefighters met their deaths near Twisp, Washington.

The Wildfire Conundrum: Building In The Woods

Nov 20, 2015

Editor's Note: The Wildfire Conundrum is a collaboration between the journalism nonprofit InvestigateWest and Jefferson P

The Wildfire Conundrum: The Climate Effect

Nov 19, 2015

Editor’s Note: The Wildfire Conundrum is a collaboration between the journalism nonprofit InvestigateWest and Jefferson Publ

Three people are suing the State of Washington over the response to 2014’s Carlton Complex fire. The fire, initially called the Golden Hike fire, was started by lightning. Plaintiffs David and Deannis Schulz and John Clees say it started as just a few acres and that the state could have contained it.

Daniel Lyon speaks at a news conference on Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday, the day he was released after more than four months in the hospital recovering from burns suffered in the Twisp River wildfire.
Harborview Medical Center

A firefighter critically injured in a deadly wildfire in eastern Washington last summer left Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday after three months in the hospital.

“This accident was a true tragedy, but it’s brought out so much good in the world,” said Daniel Lyon Jr., wearing a clear protective mask to limit scarring from the severe burns on his face. “I’ve never seen so many gracious people in my life.”

Following a summer of record wildfires across the Northwest, Washington state officials worry that residents in burned-over areas could be facing floods and mud in the wake of incoming storms.

A photographer from Wenatchee, Washington, has made a revealing discovery at the scene of a remote and long-abandoned fire lookout: a pile of very old firewood.

Much of the forestland above the Illinois River in Southwest Oregon is a tangled mess of manzanita, shrubby hardwoods and ceanothus. Bushwhacking through it is a branch-to-the-face, boot-snagging, poison-oaky horror.

And this is one of the easy spots, says Portland State University Ph.D. student Charles Maxwell.

“Yeah, this one is a pretty accessible site relatively. Some are quite a bit further in,” he says.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The latest El Niño forecast report is out from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and it looks like the drought will continue into next year for most of Washington.

Consumer drones look like child's play after you get a look at the unmanned, water-dropping helicopter that was pitched to the federal government Wednesday. The K-MAX chopper is the largest of several remotely-piloted firefighting aircraft to get a tryout this year.

Fire officials are starting to get a handle on the cost of Oregon's most destructive wildfires this year.

To date, the lightning-caused Canyon Creek Complex has cost about $30 million. The bill is shared between the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

"So we split that based on the number of acres across the entire incident," said Tracy Wrolson, who is the assistant district forester ODF's Central Oregon district. "ODF, private grounds had about 18 percent of the total acreage on Canyon Creek."

Walden Holds Fire Meeting In Canyon City

Sep 15, 2015

More than 50 people turned out Monday in Canyon City to discuss the Canyon Creek wildfire and forest policy. The meeting was convened by Republican Congressman Greg Walden.

Canyon City residents who lost homes or property in the fire still face uncertainties. Will the government provide aid for replanting and restoration? How much salvage logging can take place? Can rehabilitation be completed before winter rains begin?

This wildfire season has hit northwest tribal lands particularly hard. Firefighters’ first priority is “life and property.” But some tribal members wonder why protecting some kinds of property—like farms and even second homes— comes before tribal forest land.

Another round of warm weather this week is prompting Northwest fire managers to warn that this summer's challenging fire season isn't over yet.

As Smoke Clears, Twisp Hotel Welcomes Back Tourists

Sep 4, 2015
A wildfire burns behind a home on Twisp River Road early Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 in Twisp, Wash.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Marcie Sillman talks to Joe Marver, owner of the Twisp River Suites hotel, about how business is doing in the wake of this summer's devastating fire season. 

Firefighters line up to get gear out of the back of a fire truck as they get ready to head for a fire Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Twisp, Wash.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Todd Mundt speaks with Richard Harvey, a volunteer firefighter working on the Okanogan complex fires. After the "hot, dirty work" on the fire line that gets all the attention, he says,“Mop up is the dirty part that they don’t show on the television.”

Heidi Cornell and her husband Rick were evacuated three times from their home in the Okanogan area. This is a Google Earth view of Greenacres Road, where they live with their animals.
Google Earth

My husband is telling me to come home.

“It’s close,” he says.

“How close?”

“Within two miles, coming toward us.”

A seedling planted in a burned area of the Klamath National Forest in 2008.
Flickr photo/USFS Region 5

Marcie Sillman speaks with Mike Tupper, deputy assistant director for resources and planning at the Bureau of Land Management, about how conservationists are helping Washington's wild lands recover.

Human-Caused Fires Strain Resources In The Northwest

Sep 3, 2015

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.

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