Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Consumer drones look like child's play after you get a gander at the unmanned, water-dropping helicopter that was pitched to the federal government Wednesday. The K-MAX chopper is the largest of several remotely-piloted firefighting aircraft to get a tryout this year.

Elaine Thompson/ Associated Press / AP Photo

Fire fighters in Washington say the state’s largest ever blaze, the Okanogan Complex, is now nearly contained. Even so, the worst wildfire season ever has put new urgency into efforts to reform forest fire policies. A panel of scientists says it’s clear current practices are not working.

The Chelan and Okanogan Complex fires total more than 230,000 acres. Both fires still threaten more than 8,000 homes.


Light rains and higher humidity helped firefighters slow the spread of wildfires burning in North Central Washington on Sunday. More favorable weather is expected this week.

Multiple times this summer, the sighting of a wayward hobbyist drone has grounded aerial firefighting aircraft at Western wildfires. But unmanned aircraft have the potential to be useful at wildfires too.

US National Weather Service Spokane Washington

A very bad scenario looks to play out Saturday when it comes to the weather and fires burning in North Central and Northeast Washington.

While the weather forecast looked promising Thursday in calling for rains to hit both regions, the newest prediction could not be worse when it comes to the wildfires.

Meteorologist Andy Brown of the National Weather Service in Spokane is calling for sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph Saturday, with gusts up to 50, and even higher gusts in the mountains.

The incident command for Washington’s biggest wildfire requested a mental health team to help people in Okanogan County. A national nonprofit called Green Cross has responded to the call.

Unhealthy smoke continued to blanket large parts of central and eastern Washington state and north Idaho Wednesday. Some workers in north central Washington were sent home because the dense smoke was rated downright “hazardous.”

More firefighters continue to arrive on the front lines of the nation’s highest priority wildfire. It’s the 400 square mile complex of lightning-sparked fires near the Canadian border in north central Washington dubbed the Okanogan Complex.

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.”