LEAVENWORTH, Wash. – About 90 firefighters are working to contain a 100-acre blaze that is burning in steep terrain northeast of Leavenworth and has forced the closure of Highway 2.

In the last ten years, the federal government and rural landowners have spent increasing sums of money thinning spindly trees and removing underbrush. The aim is to reduce risk from wildfire.

A new study by the Forest Service finds that tree stands need to be "intensively" thinned for that strategy to be effective.

Study co-author David Peterson of the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Seattle says a dense tinderbox forest before thinning could have more than a 1,000 trees per acre.

Sadie Babits / Northwest News Network

The southern part of the U.S. – Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California – will likely have significant wildfires this year. Already fire crews are battling more than a dozen fires just in Texas. But here in the Northwest, the fire outlook is much rosier.