Washington

Some Of The Worst Fires In Northwest History

Jul 21, 2014
Library of Congress

The Carlton Complex Fire in Okanogan County is now the worst fire in Washington history. It has burned more than 238,000 acres of land, and is believed to have destroyed between 150 and 200 homes, killing one person. As firefighters work to contain the blaze, we’d like to take a look at some of the other fires that have raged across the Northwest to see how it compares.

Paul Cryan / U.S. Geological Survey

When you think of bats, this guy might be the first thing that comes to mind.

“I am Dracula.”

You may find bats scary. But one group of nature lovers doesn’t. They recently spent a night out tracking bats in central Washington. They wanted to check-in on how bat populations are doing in the state. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt has more.

Cacophony / Creative Commons

Washington’s August primary is less than a month away. It’s a midterm election year with no statewide offices on the ballot. Even so, already nearly $33 million has been contributed to campaigns. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins takes a look at who’s giving.

Wikimedia

Washington’s jobless rate has dropped to below 6 percent. That's the lowest level in six years. That’s according to the June jobs report released Wednesday. Seattle’s King County is leading the recovery. But most Washington counties remain above the statewide average. And some rural counties of the state are much higher.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In just a few years, Washington will need another 1,000 prison beds. There’s been talk of building a new state lock-up. But that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when the Supreme Court has said school funding must be the priority. So what’s the solution? Washington could release some older inmates who are serving long sentences. But lawmakers are wary of a political backlash and the state abolished parole in the 1980s. That leaves clemency as the remaining pressure-relief valve on the prison system. As Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports, that system of mercy may not be up to the task.

John Ryan / KUOW

It was Washington state’s worst industrial accident in nearly 50 years.

“Skagit 911. What’s your emergency?” “I’m trying to find out what's going on at the refinery.” “You know, we don’t know at this point, sir.” “Well, all I can tell you is I live two and a half miles from it, and the explosion was hard enough to rock my house, and there’s one hell of a fire going there.”

That explosion in 2010 at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes killed seven workers.

Four years later, no one has been held publicly accountable for the seven deaths. As John Ryan reported, state efforts to penalize Tesoro have stalled. To improve worker safety, the federal government is wielding a tool it rarely uses: criminal prosecution of one of the nation’s largest corporations.

Here’s John Ryan with part two of our investigation.

Mark / Flickr

Washington’s recreational marijuana market is open for business. From Seattle to Bellingham to Prosser, marijuana stores opened for business Tuesday. Excited customers lined up, dressed up and celebrated the end of pot prohibition. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this wrap-up.

Idaho State Police

Recreational marijuana goes on sale Tuesday in Washington state. But police across the border in Idaho and Oregon say that doesn't mean the pot will stay there. Law enforcement worry people will try to sneak pot products across the border – or worse, the legal market in Washington will seep into the black-market. Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from Idaho, where the contrast in pot laws is especially stark.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

It's been four years since a deadly explosion at an oil refinery shook the town of Anacortes, Washington. The question of who's responsible for seven workers' deaths still hasn't been answered fully. Refinery owner Tesoro agreed to pay millions to families of the dead, but the company is fighting accusations that it willfully put its workers in harm’s way. With multiple legal proceedings continuing to swirl around the accident, it remains unclear whether anyone will be held accountable for the human cost of Tesoro gasoline. John Ryan brings us part one of this KUOW investigation.

Carline Jean MCT / Landov

Marijuana users may pay some high prices to get high when Washington’s legal pot market launches the week of July 7. The initial price-per-gram could be nearly double what medical marijuana card-holders pay. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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