Environment

KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Methow Valley News staffer Darla Hussey took this photograph from a location a half-mile south of Twisp.
Methow Valley News photo/Darla Hussey

When residents of the Methow Valley want updates on the fires in their area, many of them have turned to the Facebook page of the local paper, the Methow Valley News.

Todd Quinn carries one of his surviving goats Saturday after a wildfire swept through his ranch the night before.
The Seattle Times/Sy Bean

Sy Bean is a 23-year-old photojournalist working as an intern for The Seattle Times. Some of his recent photos of the fires in Washington have been featured on the front page. One in particular, of Chelan-area resident Todd Quinn, stood out to him. Sy shared this story of how it came about.

 The Goodell fire burns near a power line that transmits electricity from Seattle City Light’s three dams on the Skagit River to customers in Seattle and beyond.
Seattle City Light photo/Cody Watson

Eight fires have burned more than 4,000 acres in Washington’s North Cascades. The largest of the fires has damaged transmission lines, leading Seattle City Light to shut down power generation at three dams on the Skagit River.

The utility is losing $100,000 in revenue each day that the lines are down. Conditions have remained unsafe for repair crews to work on the power lines.

Q: Have the fires damaged the dams?

Weather Could Cause Trouble For Washington Fire Crews

Aug 25, 2015

Weather is expected to cause more problems Monday for fires in north central Washington. The Okanogan Complex is burning more than 250,000 acres.

The fight against the huge wildfires in north central Washington has turned a corner. Fire bosses have even started using words like “optimistic” and “great progress.”

Firefighters are gaining the upper-hand in containing the Canyon Creek Complex fires. But that’s not much relief to the wildfire’s worst-hit community. So far, 39 homes near John Day, Oregon, have been destroyed, along with around 50 barns, stores and other structures.

Escaped Juvenile Inmate Expected To Survive

Aug 24, 2015

The Chelan County Sheriff's Office said a juvenile inmate who escaped from the fire lines in north central Washington and shot himself in the head is expected to survive.

Firefighters from Salem, Oregon, mop up hotspots on Judy Doran McBride's ranch near Twisp this weekend.
Courtesy Judy Doran McBride

Wildfire was roaring toward their 640-acre ranch near Twisp, but Judy Doran McBride and her husband stood their ground.

“If the fire comes our way, we’re going to stay and defend our home,” McBride told KUOW’s Marcie Sillman.

Canyon Creek Complex Moves Away From Homes

Aug 24, 2015

As firefighters start to gain control of Canyon Creek Complex, the blaze is moving away from homes and into wilderness.

Heavy Smoke Lowers Chelan Air Quality, Helps Firefight

Aug 24, 2015

Fires in north central Washington are continuing to threaten homes and buildings. Thousands of people are still under evacuation orders. But calming winds have helped slow the fires’ progress.

Smokejumpers from the McCall base in Idaho prepare to drop into the Payette National Forest, Idaho, on July 2, 2014.
U.S. Forest Service Photo/Kari Greer

Wildland firefighters come in all forms: There are seasonal workers, Army reservists – and prisoners who fight fires for a few dollars a day.

And then there are the smokejumpers who parachute into the heart of fire country.

Steve Surgeon surveys the ruins after he lost outbuildings and vehicles in a wildfire on the outskirts of Okanogan, Wash., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. His home was saved , though.
AP Photo/Brian Skoloff

The massive, deadly wildfire burning in Okanogan County has become the largest blaze in state history, a fire spokesman said Monday.

Air quality is classified as good Monday morning and visibility improved in cities along Interstate 84 and throughout the Willamette Valley after smoke from numerous fires funneled down the Columbia River Gorge.

The smoke moved in quickly. Satellite imagery from MODIS shows that it took about 24 hours for Oregon and Washington to be completely covered.

The Canyon Creek Complex near John Day is still growing, but shelters are closing up and people are heading home after days away.

By Sunday morning, the blaze had grown to more than 69,000 acres. Fire officials say a lot of that was strategic – they’re burning land with controlled blazes to funnel the fire into an area that was burned three years ago.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office says 39 homes have been destroyed in the fire so far.

Still, many evacuation alerts have been downgraded and people are returning to their homes after days away.

For Fire Crews in Chelan, Safety Is Top Priority

Aug 23, 2015

Fire crews Saturday had an easier time with wind in North Central Washington. That meant it was easier to fight the Chelan Complex. It also meant the area had unhealthy levels of smoke.

Smoke continued to rise from a smoldering fire a few feet away from a mobile home on Lake Chelan. Helicopters dipped water from the lake and dumped it onto hot spots. The area is still under a mandatory evacuation order. The fire, called First Creek, is two percent contained.

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