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wildfires

Five years of drought, 100-plus temperatures and gusting winds: Firefighters in Southern California are facing dangerous conditions as they battle two day-old fires east of Los Angeles.

And they're not alone. Wildfires are raging in several Western states as a heat wave grips the region.

The Reservoir Fire and the Fish Fire in Los Angeles County, both of which started Monday, have burned thousands of acres each. More than 750 homes have been evacuated, the LA County Fire Department says.

Firefighters on the fire line at the Blue Creek Fire, located east of Walla Walla, Wash. It began on July 20, 2015 and consumed an estimated 6,004 acres.
Flickr Photo/USDAgov (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/wWtrYh

Bill Radke speaks with Ben Hale, a new wildfire fighter with the Washington state Department of Natural Resources, about why he wanted to become a wildfire fighter. This will be Hale's first season fighting wildfires. 

A 1,900 acre fire near Lake Billy Chinook continues to threaten more than 900 homes. Officials said the fire is 30 percent contained.

The Akawana fire is within a few miles of a subdivision northeast of Sisters in Jefferson County, and it's triggered a preliminary evacuation notice for residents. Residents in the area have been asked to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The lighting-caused blaze is currently burning in heavy brush and ponderosa pine on state forestland.

If you're at the Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington and there's a large wildfire -- you might want to consider missing the next set of your favorite band. Just on Sunday, a 600-acre wildfire raged about three miles from the main stage where Alabama Shakes and The Cure were playing.

The out-of-control wildfire burning in northern Alberta has fire officials south of the border casting a nervous eye toward the summer.

The latest news that the Canadian blaze has moved into oil fields after destroying parts of an entire city comes as the U.S. Forest Service issues its annual wildfire forecast for the Western United States Tuesday.

An air tanker drops red fire retardant on a wildfire near Twisp, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015.
FLICKR PHOTO/BEN BROOKS (CC BY-SA 2.0) HTTP://BIT.LY/1KSV09N

State officials are investigating the causes of two forest fires northeast of Seattle.

With no lightning reported in the Oso or Gold Bar areas where the fires started, officials suspect they were caused by humans, either accidentally or intentionally.

A massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada, now extends more than 600 square miles, and officials are concerned that it could double in size on Saturday because of windy, dry weather conditions.

The Alberta government says some 500 firefighters are fighting the fire in and around Fort McMurray, in addition to 15 helicopters and 14 air tankers.

Days after they fled a powerful wildfire, more than 80,000 people who live in and around Fort McMurray are told that "it will not be a matter of days" before they can return home. Gusting winds have helped the fires spread farther, and more evacuation plans are being formed.

Some 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray who have fled the wildfire raging in Alberta, Canada, are now hearing that the fire has destroyed 1,600 homes and other structures. The province is now under a state of emergency; areas around Fort McMurray are also under a boil-water advisory.

A new forest study reveals an unexpected silver lining for forests attacked by insects like the mountain pine beetle.

Researchers from the University of Vermont and Oregon State University studied fires in forests with outbreaks of both mountain pine beetles and western spruce budworms in the past 25 years. The new report shows that forests eaten up by insects had less severe wildfires than those that were insect-free.

Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray in Alberta, where a wildfire has taken hold in the oil sands region. According to officials, it's the largest evacuation order caused by fire in the province's history.

Bill Radke speaks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about the controversy surrounding a right-to-die law in Canada. They also talk about the start of wildfire season in British Columbia.

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."

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