wildfires | KNKX

wildfires

In 2013, the U.S. Forest Service was looking for someone to reduce wildfire risk and rehabilitate a stand of overgrown trees on the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington.

Colville-based Vaagen Brothers Lumber submitted the one and only proposal to take on the ‘A to Z’ project. It’s called A to Z because what the company accepted responsibility for was everything – from start to finish. That includes a lengthy and federally required environmental analysis, public comment and the actual work.

Wildfire activity in the American West is likely to get worse in coming years. A new study out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences points to the lack of precipitation in the summer as the major driving factor when it comes to increasing fire severity.

Fires across the region have blanketed the Northwest in smoke. Blazes in California and British Columbia are also adding to the thick, reddish-gray haze.  

Courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry

From Bend, Oregon, to Ellensburg, Washington, there is a fire weather watch Friday for hot temperatures, low humidity and breezy weather.

If you think there’s already been a lot of wildfires in the Northwest this year, you’re right. 

A large wildfire is burning outside of Naches, in central Washington state. The fire, called the Conrad Fire, started Sunday afternoon. It’s currently estimated at 5,200 acres and about 20 percent contained.

Residents of Prosser, Washington, were told to prepare to evacuate last night as fire spread in the hills above the city. 

About 150 firefighters worked all night to fight what is now being called the Montecito Fire which erupted Wednesday evening. 

One official says 2017 is going down in history as "the year of the smoke," in many communities.
Randy L. Rasmussen / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell is advocating for more use of prescribed burns to protect communities and their firefighters.

Senator Maria Cantwell questioned the acting head of the U.S. Forest Service, Vicki Christiansen, this week. Among the senator's top concerns: there may not be enough air support for fires in the West this year.

In Seattle, there’s a national fire research lab where scientists have been working on a new computer model to better aid land managers as they predict how fires will behave and where smoke will go. But now that federal work’s been halted.

We’ve seen more wildfires burning into urban communities  lately. But there’s  a lot homeowners can do to protect themselves,  according to top scientists at the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab.

More than 30 popular hiking trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge remain closed because of hazards left in the wake of last year's Eagle Creek wildfire. That has park rangers wrangling crowds on the unburned Washington side of the Gorge.

Forests and grasslands in Eastern Washington state are at high risk for large, intense wildfire. This spring Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to using controlled burning on more than 1,000 acres in Okanogan, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties.

The new person in charge of regional firefighters at the U.S. Forest Service has called for an increase in prescribed fire and a change in attitude about wildfires.

The long-range forecast for the upcoming wildfire season in the Northwest is out. And even though Oregon and Washington are in the same region, forecasts for the individual states are pretty different.

October's California wine country wildfires damaged more than 30 wineries. Now, the Northwest wine industry and wine drinkers are stepping up to with their wallets to help.

The wildfires are largely out in places like the Columbia River Gorge and the south Oregon coast, but the economic fallout continues in many nearby Oregon communities. That was the message Tuesday during a meeting of the Oregon House Committee on Economic Development.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

If the cool and cloudy weather that’s been dominating in the Puget Sound region this week has got you down, hang in there. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says the weekend forecast is “improving” and there will be a fair amount of sun poking through, especially on Sunday.

The speed and ferocity of the wildfires raging through Northern California's wine country have caught many residents off guard and left state officials scrambling to contain the flames.

But for fire researchers, these devastating blazes are part of a much larger pattern unfolding across the Western United States. So far this year, fires in the U.S. have consumed more than 8.5 million acres — an area bigger than the state of Maryland.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

Thousands more people were fleeing their homes as some of the worst wildfires in California's history continued to sweep through wine country, leaving a trail of smoldering destruction and a death toll that authorities say has reached 31.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

At least 15 people have died in intense wildfires that have destroyed thousands of buildings in Northern California, where firefighters are battling 17 large blazes in the state's wine country, including Napa and Sonoma counties. Together, they've burned 115,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Some insurance companies are choosing not to renew policies in wildfire-prone areas of the inland Northwest. That’s sending home owners scrambling to find new coverage for their properties.

In a sign that the wildfire threat is receding, hundreds of Washington National Guard soldiers are being demobilized and sent home over the next 48 hours. They were activated to help fight wildfires earlier this month.

More than a million acres of Montana forests and rangeland have burned this year, so far, causing unhealthy air across the state since mid-July.

In August the Missoula County health department took the unprecedented step of advising the entire town of Seeley Lake to evacuate due to smoke; air there has been classified as "hazardous" levels for 35 days in August 1.

One of Boeing Defense subsidiary Insitu's 45-pound high-tech unmanned aircraft joined the fight against the Eagle Creek fire this weekend.

The Eagle Creek fire has littered a section of Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge with fallen trees and rocks and there are scores more hazard trees that should be cut. 

Oregon's Department of Transportation says will the freeway will stay closed at least through the weekend—possibly longer.

Federal workers say they are trying their best to keep the water flowing and the power going at Bonneville Dam in the Columbia River Gorge despite the wildfires.

Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen are being called up to help with the rash of Northwest wildfires. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday because of wildfires, which cleared the way for the activation of the Guard. 

The forest fires raging in the Columbia River Gorge are unlikely to disturb adult coho salmon right now. But Northwest tribal fishers are worried about what will happen in the fall.

Several uncontrolled wildfires in the Columbia River Gorge burning near Bonneville Dam are challenging the Bonneville Power Administration.

Wildfires burning in the Western U.S. are threatening some of America's most treasured national parks – and in some areas, the damage has already been done.

Last week in Montana, a 20-square-mile blaze burned the historic Sperry Chalet, a hotel and dining room built in 1914 and only reachable by trail.

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