Wildfires

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. 


Kevin Mooney

Remotely monitored video cameras are replacing some human fire lookouts on mountaintops around the Northwest. 


Anna King

In Washington state, an estimated 500 to 600 cattle have been lost in dramatic wildfires this summer. Kent Stokes is a fifth-generation rancher. His family lost hundreds of head in the Carlton Complex fires near Twisp in north-central Washington.

Washington Wildfire Season Winding Down

Aug 29, 2014
nikia / Flickr

One of Washington state's most intense wildfire seasons in recent memory is winding down.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The State of Washington and residents in Okanogan County are concerned that more small dams could be at risk of failing after three of them burst in a thunderstorm event last week near Twisp in northcentral Washington.

Wildfires Still Rage Amid Mudslides In Central Wash.

Aug 22, 2014
InciWeb

The National Weather Service said slow-moving storms creeping through Central Washington could bring another round of mudslides this evening yet the same wildfires that stripped the hillsides and left them prone to slides continue to burn. Remaining crews are now dealing with both fires and flooding.

Aaron Dunlap started Friday morning with his car stuck in sand and a fish stuck in the dirt outside his cannabis farm. Dunlap is one of many people stuck digging themselves out today after landslides and flash floods near Twisp, Washington.

Oregon Congressman Pushes For Funds to Fight Wildfires

Aug 20, 2014
russavia / Flickr

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon plans to use a rare procedure to force a vote on a bill that will increase federal funding for fighting wildfires. This is happening just as the U.S. Forest Service is close to surpassing its firefighting budget for the year.

Rising Costs of Wildfires

Aug 20, 2014
Washington National Guard / Flickr

The Obama administration is detailing the toll that the escalating cost of fighting forest fires has had on other projects as it pushes Congress to overhaul how it pays for the most severe fires.

Firefighters Cautiously Optimistic in Wash.

Aug 18, 2014
Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

Firefighters are cautiously optimistic as they make progress on the largest wildfires burning in Washington state.

Is The Northwest Fire Season Calming Down?

Aug 18, 2014
Bureau of Land Management / Wikimedia Commons

Fire season is calming down in the Northwest. Officials have dropped their preparedness level to four. The region was at level five for 31 days, an all-time record.

Drones Cause Problems Near Wildfires

Aug 15, 2014
Michael MK Khor / Flickr

Those who oversee the government’s aerial firefighting operations are asking the public to keep drones away from wildfires. Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise said there have been three instances this year in which drones interfered with aerial firefighting.

Alan Vernon / Flickr

Wildfires have ravaged more than 1 million acres across the Northwest. In central Washington, the burned landscape will make it difficult for one of the state’s largest deer herds to find food. Farmers worry the deer would then wander onto their fields. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt reports.

Firefighters On Alert For New Lightning Strikes

Aug 14, 2014
Bo Insogna / Flickr

Firefighters are grateful for the thunderstorms that brought some rain to the Eastern Cascades this week, but the thunderstorms also brought the threat of lightning strikes.

Wildfire Season On Track To Break Record

Aug 13, 2014
Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

There are 21 sizable wildfires burning across Oregon and Washington. The season is on track to break the record for acreage burned.

Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

Firefighters at the Chiwaukum Complex fire near Leavenworth in the eastern Cascades were happy to get the rain last night.

Keeping Safe On Hikes During Wildfire Season

Aug 11, 2014
sebadelval / pixabay

It’s prime hiking season in the northwest right now, but it’s also the peak of wildfire season in the west. That can lead to trouble.

This summer's active wildfire season is stretching fire crews to the limit. This week, virtually every available wildland firefighter in the Northwest is on the scene of a blaze. Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Kay Ledbetter / Texas A and M AgriLife Extension Service

Northwest cattle ranchers are struggling to get their herds out of the way of raging wildfires. Some herds have been lost, others badly injured.

Oregon Gulch Fire Stabilized

Aug 7, 2014
Liam Moriarty / Jefferson Public Radio

Fire crews battling Oregon's biggest fire have finally gotten the upper hand. Chris Cline, Oregon Department of Forestry incident commander for the Oregon Gulch fire said that crews have completed the line around the eastern tip of the fire.

Fire Forces 70 Evacuations In Columbia Gorge

Aug 6, 2014
Hux / Wikimedia

A fire ignited Tuesday night in the Columbia Gorge has led authorities to order evacuations for 70 homes in the Oregon community of Rowena. Officials have alerted another 100 homes to be ready for possible evacuation.

90 Percent Containment of Carlton Complex Fire

Aug 5, 2014
V. H. Hammer / Flickr

Fire managers have the Carlton Complex Fire in north central Washington almost fully contained.

US Department of Agriculture / Flickr

A wildfire near Ellensburg that started with a lightning strike on Saturday grew by 20 percent overnight.

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