Firefighters lit off two prescribed fires Thursday in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in central Washington state. It’s part of a wider $800,000 state pilot project to prevent huge fires like the Carlton Complex two years ago.

Spokane, Washington, the state’s second largest city, found itself surrounded by flames Monday after high winds and heat Sunday caused the rapid spread of three separate wildfires.

Tuesday’s high winds set two major new fires raging in Washington state. One ripped across grassy eastern Washington flats near Moses Lake and the other up a steep canyon near the Snake River and Pullman.

The Range 12 Fire in southeast Washington has destroyed some of the most sensitive shrub steppe habitat in the nation.

Officials from the Hanford nuclear reservation and Energy Northwest have been meeting with fire managers in southeast Washington state Tuesday. The nearby Range 12 Fire has grown to more than 177,000 acres and high winds are predicted this evening.

Historic forest fires. The Oso landslide. Global warming. These are among the issues in the race for Washington Commissioner of Public Lands. The position oversees state trust lands that generate money for schools.

The commissioner must also navigate a constant tension between the timber industry and environmentalists.

Fireworks aren’t the only thing firefighters have to worry about this Fourth of July weekend. They have a big battle on their hands and have been bringing in extra crews and equipment to posts east of the Cascades.

Multi Agency Fire Training Underway In Washington

Jun 27, 2016
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Eleven-hundred firefighters have begun training for wildfire season in Washington.

If you're at the Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington and there's a large wildfire -- you might want to consider missing the next set of your favorite band. Just on Sunday, a 600-acre wildfire raged about three miles from the main stage where Alabama Shakes and The Cure were playing.

Rowan Moore Gerety / / Northwest Public Radio

The summer of 2015 was the worst wildfire season in Washington state history: three young firefighters died and hundreds of homes burned in blazes that sent more than a million acres up in smoke. For residents of central Washington, a gathering on Monday offered the first chance to come together and ponder the future in a region likely to see more and bigger fires in years to come. 

Tom Banse / / Northwest News Network

Talk about a big drone… Federal wildfire fighting agencies got a close-up look Wednesday at a remotely piloted helicopter that can fly through smoke or darkness to drop water or ferry supplies. 


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.

“We’ve had fires here before, but it’s always been in the woods never anything to this capacity,” John Day resident Tanni Wenger said.

Firefighting: A Dangerous Profession

Aug 21, 2015
AP Images

Three firefighters died Wednesday in Washington state when flames apparently overtook their vehicle after it crashed. Four other firefighters were hurt.

The U.S. Forest Service confirmed the names of three firefighters killed in a wildfire Wednesday night in Twisp, Washington.

The Hidden Costs of Wildfire Management

Aug 3, 2015
Stuart Rankin / Flickr

Battling wildfire is not cheap and there’s little incentive to lower costs by changing how wildfires are managed. That’s the conclusion of WSU economist and professor Jonathan Yoder.

In a recent paper published in the Journal of Forestry, he and co-author Dean Lueck of the University of Arizona reported that part of the problem comes from inefficiencies in fighting fires. Those include the practice of dropping fire suppressant from the air – something which costs a lot of money but isn’t very effective.

Fire crews said Monday afternoon that the Douglas County Complex fire burning near Wenatchee, Washington, is at least 55 percent contained.

Looking For Fire Information? Start Here

Jul 8, 2015

Do you smell smoke? Are you just concerned about fires in your area? Finding good information during wildfire season is difficult, and not having it is stressful. But there are a lot of places online to find information about fires and smoke in the Northwest.

Michael MK Khor/FLIKR

Those in charge of fighting the nation’s wildfires are again asking drone owners not to fly their unmanned aircraft near fires. The plea comes after drones forced the suspension of two firefights last week in California.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise says aerial firefights on the San Bernardino National Forest on Wednesday and Thursday had to be put on hold until drones detected near the fire, stopped flying.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

 A couple of unseasonably large wildfires in the Northwest are giving crews an early taste of fire season.

Rowan Moore Gerety / NWPR

The weed whacker is a frequent companion to the sounds of chirping birds and rustling pines at Ross Frank’s ranch outside Leavenworth. With forested land on all sides, Frank says managing his woodlot has become part of his lifecycle, “like taking out the trash on Sunday.”

Using the machine to clear dense brush beneath a stand of aspens beside his home, Frank says “we’re mimicking what fire would have done naturally”--clearing out the understory to make future fires less damaging.

As Northwest states brace for what's expected to be a challenging summer for fighting wildfires, Oregon has decided to renew its wildfire insurance policy.

Both Oregon and Washington’s state forestry departments had hoped to try out drones this summer to provide reconnaissance at wildfire scenes. But neither firefighting agency managed to pull it off. Now both plan to try again next year.

The National Guard / Flickr

A slow wildfire season in the U.S. means the Forest Service won’t have to dip into other parts of its budget to cover firefighting expenses. The federal government’s fiscal year ended Tuesday. As Scott Graf reports, it’s the first time in three years the agency’s firefighting allotment will cover actual costs. 

Rex Parker / Flickr

The U.S. Forest Service is developing a rule that would let it decide whether the media could film in wilderness areas, or take photos there. Broadcasters say the rule gives the government too much control over the content of news stories.

The Forest Service would issue permits based on the potential impact to wilderness areas as well as the story topic.

A fee of up to $1,500 could also be required to receive a permit.

Ron Pisaneschi is the general manager of Idaho Public Television. He says he and other broadcasters are prepared to fight the rule.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Washington State’s worst fire season was not bad enough to warrant more federal assistance. People of the Methow Valley and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation were hoping for more money to rebuild hundreds of lost homes and livelihoods.

In the Methow Valley there’s now a housing shortage. The state estimates somewhere around 350 homes were burned down. Now, families are trying to stay near their jobs, the people they know or schools.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

For years there's been a battle raging between Idaho ranchers and the federal government over whether ranchers should be able to fight wildfires. Get out there, with their trucks and tanks of water and try to put the fires out themselves. Ranchers say they've always done it. The Feds have said, leave it to the pros and don't make yourself a liability. At times it's almost come close to blows. But now a truce has been struck. And as correspondent Jessica Robinson reports, it could change the way fires are fought every summer.

sean dreilinger / flickr

A wildfire southeast of Portland has grown to more than 3,500 acres and threatens more than 160 homes. Firefighters are expected to catch a break from the hot, dry conditions for a few days until the next round of warm weather moves into the region this weekend. The "36 Pit" fire is just the latest in a series of large fires in the Northwest this summer. 

National Interagency Fire Center

Fire season in the Northwest is winding down for this year.

But scientific models suggest that with climate change, the region can expect more large wildfires in the future.

Anna King

In north-central Washington people are trying to get back to normal. But that’s pretty hard with a major housing shortage after more than 350 homes were lost to wildfires.