Washington wildfires

AP Images

The Washington Commissioner of Public Lands said warmer than usual weather has not only increased the wildfire risk, it also has increased the likelihood that firefighting resources across the west will be stretched thin come summer.

“We need to be more self sufficient ,” Commissioner Peter Goldmark said.

He said so many communities are struggling with drought that the state can’t count on outside help if wildfires strike.

“In the past, sometimes we’ve been able to rely on contract resources or other states," Goldmark said. "But because of the widespread nature of the drought, and the ensuing fire potential, we can no longer count on other states or adjacent states or other entities coming to help us.”

That’s why he is requesting an additional $4.5 million dollars to pay for emergency staffing and equipment. That’s on top of an unprecedented ask for $20-million for longer-term forest health work, thinning stands and making public forests more resistant to wildfire.

Goldmark says last year’s Carlton Complex Fire was the worst he has ever seen.  The current draught declarations combined with this year’s warmer than normal forecast for the summer is making him nervous.

Goldmark says he won't count on help from anyone this season. Last year, the deadly Carlton Complex required help from 40 states.  

Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #4

Due to the extreme fire danger across nearly all of Washington from hot, dry weather, the state has expanded its ban on outdoor fires.

Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #4

The wildfire burning on the Colville Indian Reservation continues to grow. The Devil's Elbow Complex, which has topped 19,000 acres, is only 4 percent contained.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee is asking President Obama for a Major Disaster Declaration to deal with devastating wildfires in eastern Washington.

A declaration would provide federal assistance to help families, business owners and local governments recover from the wildfires.

Three small fires believed sparked by lightning have now converged into what is being called the Devil’s Elbow Complex on the Colville Indian Reservation.

The blaze, which spans 2,500 acres, is threatening about 50 structures on the reservation 10 miles north of the town of Keller. 

U.S. Forest Service

The Carlton Complex, the largest fire in Washington state history, is now approximately 90 percent contained, according to fire officials. 

Fire information officer Andy Lyon says officials do have concerns about wind in the forecast, though they are hopeful full containment will come soon. He adds the containment lines, which run nearly 200 miles around the 255,000-acre blaze, are very extensive.

Anna King

Firefighters are battling the lightning-sparked Snag Canyon Fire that has grown quite large just north of Ellensburg.

The blaze, which has burned nearly 2,000 acres, is challenging firefighters who are trying to secure lines closest to town.

Northwest Interagency Coordination Center

Kittitas County Commissioner Obie O’Brien said he fears about a dozen homes have been lost to a fast-growing wildfire in the foothills north of Ellensburg, Washington. Those losses have not been confirmed.

State Department of Natural Resources regional manager Todd Walker said hundreds of firefighters have been called in to corral the fire.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

There will be plenty of sunshine for Seafair weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, but dry conditions and a chance of lightning could mean trouble for firefighters.

Inciweb

The lights are coming back on in fire-swept north-central Washington. A major transmission line was restored late last week, but not everyone has their power back.

As of Monday about 900 customers remain in the dark as a result of the state’s largest wildfire.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Carlton Complex fire has consumed 300 homes in north-central Washington, the Okanogan County sheriff said Friday. It’s too soon for many people to know what they lost in the fire, including homes, orchards, livestock and pets.

AP Photo

Federal funds are being used to help fight the wildfires that have raged across the Northwest this summer. But so far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency isn't handing out money directly to owners of the nearly 200 homes lost in the blazes.

Courtney Flatt

The Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department ordered more homeowners to evacuate Monday afternoon after firefighters saw a brief relief from high winds and hot weather Sunday.

Donations are coming in by the truckload to the Pateros High School in central Washington. Piles of clothes hip-deep fill the gym. Stacks of food, water and pet food line the hallways.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The most destructive wildfire currently burning in the Northwest has left thousands of people without air conditioning and refrigeration. The so-called Carlton Complex fire has closed gas stations and shut down ATMs in north-central Washington.

Okanogan County currently estimates 150 to 200 homes burned to the ground. The Okanogan County Utility District says its electrical system is almost a complete loss.

The wildfires burning in central Washington prompted another round of evacuations Friday night.

Residents of fire-ravaged central Washington say they're in a “state of shock.” Fires destroyed more houses over the weekend and prompted additional evacuation notices.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says 1,000 National Guard troops will take a crash course in wildfire fighting so they can be deployed to central Washington fires. A blaze in Okanogan County that the governor calls a “firestorm” has destroyed around 100 homes.

Inslee says the troops are currently in Yakima for annual training.

"We're lucky, because they are on duty and in a place they can be trained. So we are going to bring trainers from the Department of Natural Resources to train them as rapidly as possible to be available — not just now, but for the rest of the summer," he said. 

About 80 people woke up in a Red Cross shelter in central Washington Friday morning after a wildfire forced the town of Pateros to evacuate overnight. Initial reports are that 40 homes and a church have burned in the small town on the Columbia River.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Residents of 860 homes have been told they should evacuate as a wildfire burns out of control in central Washington state.

The Chiwaukum Creek fire in Chelan County, believed to have been started by lightning and first detected on Tuesday, remains zero percent contained. It has now burned approximately 4,500 acres.

A wildfire burning near Leavenworth is about 10 percent contained, but firefighters are keeping a wary eye on temperatures expected to climb into the 90s.

The Eagle fire covers 1,186 acres and is located about 5 miles northwest of the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth.

U.S. Forest Service

A ridge-top wildfire burning northeast of Leavenworth, Wash., tripled in size overnight and residents of 30 nearby homes have been told to evacuate. Residents of another 35 homes have been told to prepare to evacuate.

Fire spokeswoman Robin DeMario said on Wednesday morning the Eagle Fire has grown to more than 2 square miles, because of overnight fire activity and more accurate mapping.

With wildfires still raging across the Northwest, fire managers are turning to private firefighting crews in increasing numbers. One private industry group says contractors are responsible for a surprising 40 percent of firefighters on the ground in the region.

Both the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry said that figure sounds about right. But the shift didn't happen overnight; the Oregon Department of Forestry's Rod Nichols says the change started in the 80s.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Torrents of mud and debris have closed three roads near Wenatchee in central Washington. The landslides were caused by thunderstorms on Sunday, along with wildfire damage.

The mudflows have hampered firefighting efforts on the Mile Post 10 fire, which has grown to 6,000 acres since Friday. Some residents and fire trucks were stranded. 

Washington State Department of Natural Resources / Flickr

Drizzly skies are expected to yield to warmer temperatures and some sun this weekend, because of an upper level trough over us and that’s causing upward motion and clouds, says Cliff Mass, KPLU’s weather expert.

Fire crews are scrambling to respond to reports of new wildfires sparked by lightning after thunderstorms swept through central Washington.

Jim Duck is the operations coordinator for the region's Interagency Dispatch Center. He says there are reports of new wildfires in Okanogan, Douglas and Kittitas counties.

Department of Natural Resources

Fire crews were gaining a handle on the wildfire burning in the Capitol State Forest Tuesday.

At noon, the C-Line fire was at 70 percent containment at 80 acres, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Several roads and trails shut down by the blaze were to remain closed at least until the end of the day (see full list of closures).

Washington State Department of Transportation

Wildfire Awareness Week began Monday with record-breaking heat and crews working to contain two blazes that broke out over the weekend in Western Washington.

AP

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Department of Natural Resources has concluded that an August wildfire that caused $11 million damage was caused by sparks from welding or cutting work on a bridge southeast of Cle Elum.

The department on Monday released the results of its investigation into the Taylor Bridge Fire that destroyed 61 homes and blackened 36 square miles. 

Dry east winds are bringing a higher risk of wildfires to most of western Washington and western Oregon.

After NW fires: Bring on the bugs

Sep 30, 2012

Wildfires have already scorched more than one million acres across the Northwest this year. It may take years before the signs of the burns are no longer visible. But charred Northwest forests are already a-buzz with new life.

Burned forests are not quiet places.

“It’s very lively in the forest immediately after a fire," says Connie Mehmel. "Very lively. And a lot of that liveliness is insects.”

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