wildfires

The Boeing Co.

State forestry departments in Washington and Oregon 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.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

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.

But the federal government, for the second time, turned down the application by Washington state for more aid. This time, FEMA said the effects of the fire were not severe enough "to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance.”

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

It might seem like fire season is as bad as it's ever been. But there's a group of researchers who question that prevailing wisdom.

The last week of July is historically the driest week of the year. And despite record-breaking rain last week, the forecast for the days ahead fits the bill for this time of year, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“We’re going to have sun, warmth and virtually no precipitation,” Mass said of the week ahead.

Tim Durkan

If you love sunshine, Friday’s the day to get out and enjoy it.

The cooling trend we’ve been experiencing will continue this weekend and even bring some rain with it, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Inciweb

Whether it’s due to negligence or arson, thousands of wildfires each year are caused by humans. And the person or business who starts a fire can expect a bill.

Jeff Bonebrake is with the Oregon Department of Forestry. It's his job to investigate how a fire started. Once that’s pinned down, he figures out who pays and how much. He says the bulk of the charges are for firefighter salaries and equipment use.

Philip Higuera / University of Idaho

Fire season has come alive in the Northwest. On Monday, 20 homes in Idaho's Sun Valley area were briefly under evacuation when a fire broke out in a nearby canyon. And a 5,000-acre fire north of Wenatchee, Washington continues to threaten houses in the area.

Fires can be devastating to people's lives. But according to new research, at least certain types of forests recovery fairly quickly.

Boise National Forest

scathing new report by a group of veteran wildfire experts says too little has been done to improve firefighter safety since an Arizona fire killed 19 firefighters a year ago. 

The group, called Safety Matters, is asking national wildfire managers to implement a series of changes aimed at putting safety above saving property.

Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock / U.S. Air Force

The federal government is already predicting this fire season will push firefighting resources almost $500 million over budget.

The cost of fighting wildfires has been steadily rising over the last two decades. And now, a new study finds a prevention tactic for fireproofing homes isn’t helping to bring those costs down.

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.

You may know that on a hot, sunny day, it’s better to be sitting in a white car than a black one. White reflects sunlight, while black absorbs more of it.

The same concept applies to researchers trying to figure out what effect wildfires have on climate change. And part of the answer is whether the smoke particles are dark or reflective.

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.

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. 

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