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wildfires

Burn Ban Marks Start Of Rough Fire Season

Jun 17, 2015

Marcie Sillman speaks with Peter Goldmark, commissioner of public lands for the state Department of Natural Resources, about a burn ban in effect in eastern Washington and the coming wildfire season.

Approximately 40 small wildland fires are burning across the Northwest -- and it’s only early June.

This summer is expected to be dry and hot, and that means increased wildfire risk. Communities near range or forest land are especially vulnerable.

In Oregon, it costs an average of $56,000 to protect a home from an encroaching wildfire. That's according to a study by the Headwaters Economics, a public policy think tank out of Bozeman, Montana.

A member of a fire crew. wildfire
Flickr Photo/BC Gov Photos (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about an early start to the wildfire season in British Columbia.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

The Interagency Fire Center released an outlook for the upcoming fire season on Friday. 2015 could be a big year for major wildfires in the Northwest.

One important predictor of fires is the moisture level of dead wood, called the "fuel moisture value." The value is measured at several sites across the state.

WINTHROP, Wash. -- Snow blankets the landscape in north central Washington. What you can’t see is the scorched earth left from last summer’s Carlton Complex fire.

Even through the snow, Susan Prichard, a fire ecologist for the University of Washington, can see the damage. She can also see signs of recovery in the bitterbrush and aspen trees.

Idaho lawmakers had a bit of sticker shock Friday over the state’s firefighting costs.

Another Threat To Spotted Owls: Fire

Dec 30, 2014

Northern spotted owls living in central Oregon are scrappier than their westside counterparts. They have to search harder for food, and habitat isn’t as plum as the lush forests on the other side of the Cascade Mountains.

Laurie Turner, a forest wildlife biologist for the Deschutes National Forest, said in this sort of fringe habitat, spotted owls need more space, especially breeding pairs.

The Washington state education department has released a report detailing the natural disaster risks for schools across the state.

Along with familiar risks like earthquakes and wildfires, the list of natural disasters that threaten Washington schools includes things you may not have known to worry about.

Like tsunami indundation in Seattle.

In Auburn and Puyallup, it’s lahars – mud flows from volcanic eruptions.

WINTHROP, Wash. -- This summer, the Carlton Complex wildfire swept through central Washington’s Methow Valley. The fire consumed more acres than any other fire in the state’s history. Now, ecologists are trying to make forests more sustainable to help prevent these large-scale fires.

Fire ecologist Susan Prichard was driving from Seattle to her home in Winthrop just as the Carlton Complex fire picked up.

The Carlton Complex fires burned more than 255,000 acres in Washington’s Methow Valley past summer. There are thousands of fire-scrubbed hillsides and slopes that threaten to become torrents of mud running down in nearly every direction.

The fires and immediate mudslides are over in the Methow Valley in north central Washington. Now a lot of tough work begins.

Wildfires scorched nearly 1.5 million acres in Oregon, Washington and Idaho this year. And with increased demand for timber from lumber mills, there is a growing market for scorched trees.

This summer’s Carlton Complex wildfire was the largest in Washington history. Scores of firefighters battled the inferno in north Central Washington.

Methow Valley families know they have a long, difficult winter ahead. And they’re trying to get ready.

Both Oregon and Washington’s state forestry departments had hoped to try out drones this summer to provide reconnaissance at wildfire scenes. But neither firefighting agency managed to pull it off. Now both plan to try again next year.

People of the Methow Valley and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation were hoping for more money to rebuild hundreds of lost homes and livelihoods.

For years there's been a battle raging between Idaho ranchers and the federal government over whether ranchers should be able to fight wildfires.

Mine Pays For Environmental Projects As Part Of Fine

Sep 15, 2014

High tech weather sensors are now installed throughout the area scorched by the Carlton Complex wildfire. The hope is that they will warn residents of potential flash floods. The funding for the technology is coming from an unusual source.

In August, flash flooding swept through north central Washington. The area had earlier been burned by the Carlton Complex fire. The flooding took residents by surprise.

Now, new rain gauges that communicate via satellite will warn of future flash flooding in the area.

Scientists Say Large Wildfires Are Likely Here To Stay

Sep 11, 2014

SEATTLE – Megafires could be the new normal if climate models are on target.

John Abatzoglou, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Idaho, presented findings from a review of 20 different climate models at the Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference, held at the University of Washington this week.

The models looked at weekly temperature and wildfire data over time.

In north-central Washington people are trying to get back to normal. But that’s pretty hard with a major housing shortage after more than 350 homes were lost to wildfires.

Remotely monitored video cameras are replacing some human fire lookouts on mountaintops around the Northwest.

Kent Stokes, 28, can’t believe who survived the Carlton Complex wildfire.

Hunkered low on the front deck of a yurt are two 20-somethings. The hut is plopped in the middle of a winding mountain canyon in Washington’s Methow Valley near the town of Twisp.

The State of Washington and residents in Okanogan County are concerned that more small dams could be at risk of failing after three of them burst in a thunderstorm event last week near Twisp in northcentral Washington.

The National Weather Service says slow-moving storms creeping through Central Washington could bring another round of mudslides this evening.

Residents are digging out from flooding that looks 300 yards wide in some places after mudslides brought down hillsides and torrents of mud ran down creeks outside of Twisp, Washington, Thursday night.

Aaron Dunlap started Friday morning with his car stuck in sand and a fish stuck in the dirt outside his cannabis farm. Dunlap is one of many people stuck digging themselves out today after landslides and flash floods near Twisp, Washington.

Heavy rains near Twisp, Washingon, have triggered flash floods and landslides on hills and ranches left charred by the Carlton Complex wildfire. Highways have been closed in Okanogan County and traffic has been rerouted.

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