northwest wildfires

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.

As the smoke settles, people are asking how to heal the Northwest’s forests. What’s to be done with the blackened trees, spread across hillsides?

One sore spot for people is the Columbia River Gorge.

In an effort to help rehabilitate the land, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., has introduced a bill that would expedite a controversial logging practice in the National Scenic Area: salvage logging.

On a clear day, Jocelyn Bentley-Prestwich can see Mount Adams from the vineyard where she works in Hood River. But lately, she’s had difficulty seeing to the end of her property line. 

With the Eagle Creek Fire burning along the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River has been cloaked in heavy smoke for more than a week. 

USFWS - Pacific Region

As wildfires rage across the Pacific Northwest, more than just people are displaced from their homes. Finned and furry creatures are also feeling the effects of the flames. 

Until the fires stop burning, biologists won’t be able to survey places where imperiled birds, mammals and fish have been barely hanging on.

Don Ryan / ASSOCIATED PRESS

 


This summer, wildfire smoke has blanketed much of the West, with ash falling from the skies in Seattle, Portland and elsewhere. This unhealthy air quality is dangerous for people with lung and heart problems.  

A total of 26 wildfires are burning in Oregon, 13 in Washington and 23 in Idaho.

Many are close to towns and are having a noticeable effect on their economies.

The Eagle Creek Fire is just a couple of hundred yards away from Cascade Locks, Oregon. It’s a small Columbia River Gorge town that brings in the bulk of its income during the summer months through tourism.

“I think it’s taken a huge hit because it’s been closed. Especially this happening over Labor Day weekend,” said Cathy Perez, a beer tender in Cascade Locks.

Emergency aid to help victims of Hurricane Harvey now also includes additional money to fight wildfires in Oregon and other western states. 

The U.S. Senate on Thursday added provisions replenishing the U.S. Forest Service's budget for the rest of this fire season. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said it should amount to more than $100 million in additional aid. He said the money will ensure that the agency won't have to cannibalize programs aimed at making fires less likely to burn in the first place — something he said has frequently happened in the past.

Before the fire, the Skamania County Fairgrounds were empty. Now, the sun-scorched field is full of RVs and tents.

Almost everyone here has been evacuated from Cascade Locks, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. Others have fled the Archer Mountain Fire, which started when the Eagle Creek Fire jumped the river earlier this week into Washington state.

Eagle Creek Fire Jumps Columbia River Gorge Overnight

Sep 5, 2017
U.S. Forest Service

UPDATED (10:55 a.m. PST): The Eagle Creek Fire jumped the Columbia River Gorge overnight, sparking a smaller fire on the Washington side of the river Tuesday morning according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office.

Eagle Creek Fire Shuts Down Rail Lines

Sep 5, 2017

 

The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge is shutting down rail lines. Union Pacific has closed portions its tracks out of concern for crews’ safety. Train traffic is expected to be stopped for one to two days.

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

Ian McCluskey / Oregon Public Broadcasting

A Portland woman says the young hikers suspected of starting a fire now consuming the Columbia River Gorge giggled as one threw a firecracker into Eagle Creek Canyon.

Washington Fire Threatens Thousands Of Homes

Sep 5, 2017
Inciweb

 

A fire in Central Washington is threatening thousands of homes. The Jolly Mountain Fire -- just outside of Cle Elum -- showed no signs of slowing this weekend. It’s now burning more than 20,000 acres. High temperatures and low humidity mean the fire could continue to grow.

InciWeb

 

The Chetco Bar Fire is now burning 125,000 acres about 5 miles from the southern Oregon town of Brookings. Fire crews are working to protect homes in the mountains near the fire.  But work has also been done to protect a little-known historic landmark up in the forest.

William Huggins / Flickr

Among the countless millions of people who viewed yesterday’s solar eclipse, were firefighters across the Pacific Northwest. Wildfire suppression efforts in Oregon were actually helped by the event. 

Two Air National Guard reconnaissance planes were called in Wednesday by the National Interagency Fire Center to help detect and map wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. The twin engine, turboprop RC-26 aircraft will be temporarily based at Spokane's Fairchild Air Force Base and at Eugene's airport. In the near future, their assignment may be carried out by unmanned aircraft. 

A heat wave broke and the air quality improved in the Northwest as a cold front moved across Oregon and Washington, but fire officials are still on high alert. They reported 24 new wildfires over the weekend.



Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is sending aid to help fight a 34,000-acre wildfire on the Warm Springs Reservation in central Oregon.

British Columbia’s wildfire season has been deemed “unprecedented.” The province needs help from its neighbors to the south. But they may not be able to get it.




Fire Safety Over the Fourth

Jul 4, 2017
John Froschauer / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Department of Natural Resources oversees thousands of acres of public lands throughout Washington and manages the state’s largest on call fire department, and it’s calling on people to celebrate independence from wildfires this Fourth of July. 

Two wildfires in north-central Washington are being managed as one. Fresh firefighters poured in Thursday to battle the Sutherland Canyon Fire, which grew dramatically overnight. The Spartan Fire near Wenatchee is transitioning to mop-up.

Wildfire Smoke Pollution Is Worse Than We Thought

Jun 16, 2017
Georgia Institute of Technology

All that black smoke you see floating up from a wildfire — it’s full of small particles that are bad for your lungs and heart. It turns out, the small particles are a lot worse than researchers previously thought. A new study found there are three times as much pollution in wildfire smoke plumes than predicted from earlier estimates.

Megafires are the kind of wildland fires that grow beyond 100,000 acres. And they are a growing threat across the American West. That’s why one federal scientist in the Northwest is hitting the road with his research.

nature.org

 

When wildfires roared through Washington during the summer and fall of 2014 and 2015, they caught people’s attention, even Democratic state lawmakers from the Puget Sound area such as Rep. Larry Springer.

Courtney Flatt

Two summers ago, a firestorm swept through Ken Bevis’ land outside Winthrop. It scarred hillsides, destroyed homes and outbuildings. Bevis turned to his folk music to help cope.

Wildfires: It’s Not All Bad

Sep 26, 2016
InciWeb / http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

After two devastating years of fires in the Northwest, it seems fire season brings only destruction. In 2014 and 2015 alone, more than half a million acres burned. But wildfires do have an upside.

How Do Wildfires Jump Rivers?

Aug 26, 2016
Connor Henricksen / Northwest Public Radio

Think about a campfire - or even a bonfire. As the fuel burns, embers are tossed up into the air. Usually they burn out quickly and are harmless.

Now think about wildfires. They are millions of times the size of a campfire and release much larger embers that are far more dangerous.

USGS

Fire officials are battling a major wildfire on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The wildfire spread rapidly onto tribal land, but response hasn’t kept up with the pace of the blaze.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday declared a state of emergency in 20 counties mostly on the dry side of the Cascades, an area vulnerable to wildfire. Resources are stretched thin in the battle to save homes and property.

In southeast Washington, the Range 12 Fire is finally out. But now there’s 176,600 acres of black. And it’s roasted much of the valuable habitat on the Hanford Reach National Monument.

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