Wildfire

News and updates about wildfires, fire funding, and other fire related stories.
For the most recent information:
NWCC Blog (Northwest Interagency Coordination Center)
Map of Fires and Northwest Smoke Air Quality
Wildfire Incident Reports:
Washington | Idaho | Oregon | Montana

This weekend air quality in the Spokane area reached unhealthy levels due to wildfire smoke. This summer air quality in Okanogan County briefly was the worst in the world due to wildfires.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Department of Natural Resource lands will be closed to the public from Friday until further notice due to the growing danger of wildfires.

National Weather Service Spokane

Temperatures in the Inland Northwest are still hotter than normal, and this week the region will also be more prone to fire danger and smoky air due to drought and wind.

Courtesy of Idaho Fire Map

Crews are making good progress on the Andrus Fire west of Spokane. Fire officials peg the size of that fire at 232 acres, down from about 300, as they’ve updated their mapping.

Meanwhile, several smaller wildfires have broken out all over eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

Fire Danger To Increase Tuesday Night, Wednesday

Jul 5, 2021
National Weather Service Spokane

The National Weather Center is warning of extreme fire danger Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Lightning storms, dry conditions and winds are expected to combine Tuesday evening and Wednesday, priming Eastern Washington and North Idaho for wildfires.

Evacuation Ordered For 250-Acre Fire Outside Cheney

Jul 5, 2021
Spokane Fire District 8 Firefighters

Firefighters worked overnight to contain a wildfire burning near Cheney.

As of Monday evening, the Andrus Road fire had charred more than 250 acres, according to a tweet from Washington State Patrol Jeff Sevigney. It’s burning near the Marshall Cemetery.

A Washington state firefighter was hurt battling a fire in Kittitas County on Sunday.

The Department of Natural Resources reports the crew member sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries and is resting in a hospital. The person’s name hasn’t been released.

The Koffman Road Fire, as it is called, began on Sunday and has burned more than 400 acres of grass and brush. It has since been contained.

Courtesy of National Weather Service

Spokane has broken its all-time record high temperature. At 4 pm the National Weather Service reported the temperature at its Spokane International Airport facility had reached 109.

National Weather Service

Health and fire officials are expecting the region next week to experience both a heat wave and, potentially, smoke from wildfires – a dangerous combination that could cause a spike in both heat stroke and respiratory illnesses.

Despite increasing vaccinations and relaxation of COVID-19 regulations across the state, state wildland firefighters will still need to follow strict COVID-19 protocols.

The Department of Health says more than 67% of the state's population over age 16 is now vaccinated against Covid. And while that certainly includes many who work on DNR fire crews, currently DNR managers have no way to determine who that might be.

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

Wildfire aid for Malden was held up by the White House for four months. A new  bill introduced by Cathy McMorris Rodgers could change that.

Here’s an excerpt of a video the congresswoman posted to her website.

“The Malden Act would do three main things – First It requires the president to approve or deny a disaster declaration within 30 days. If the request is not denied within 30 days, it is approved.”

It would also would require FEMA to provide resources to local emergency managers to help with their recovery and prepare them for other future emergencies.

Courtesy Stevens County Fire District 1

Fire crews in Stevens County are urging the community to be cautious when using guns after several fires broke out at shooting ranges.

Officials say the most recent fire at the area known as Bogg’s Pit near Loon Lake was the third since April.

The largest burn was about two acres.

Report On Malden Fire Brings Closure, Questions

May 20, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Residents of the town of Malden in Whitman County finally know the cause of the fire that destroyed their homes last Labor Day, and they say that knowledge has helped them move forward, but also left them with questions.

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

Wildfire victims in Malden and Pine City will not receive individual assistance from the federal government to replace the homes or belongings they lost.

Most of the town of Malden was destroyed in a wildfire on Labor Day last year and recovery stalled for months after the Trump administration ignored calls for assistance from both Republicans and Democrats. Last week the Whitman County town was approved for public assistance which will allow them to rebuild public buildings, but was informed today they would not receive individual assistance.

Grass Fire Burning Near Medical Lake

Aug 27, 2020
Guy Gregory/WA Department of Natural Resources

 

A wildfire burning in the Medical Lake area is threatening homes and has crossed over onto Fairchild Air Force Base.

 

Guy Gifford from the Washington Department of Natural Resources estimates more than 100 acres of brush, timber and grass have burned. He says the front of the fire is still spreading.

 

Officials have ordered a level three evacuation for homeowners in the area. That’s the most urgent level.

Spokane Fire Agencies Impose Outdoor Burn Bans

Jul 20, 2020
Jacob Frank/National Park Service

With the arrival of hot weather Spokane county officials are now banning most open fires.

 

It's been a long time coming, but with temperatures in the 90s this week.

Officials, such as Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Greg Rogers, say it's time for a ban on many types of outdoor burning.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says rural residents are losing their homeowners' insurance coverage because of concerns about wildfire danger.

Franz says the non-renewal notices came despite the fact some homeowners have worked to make their property more fire resistant.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is in Spokane building support for her proposal to create a state fund for wildfire prevention and forest health projects.

Franz toured a parcel of private land near Riverside State Park this morning [Wednesday] where crews are thinning trees and removing debris.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Wildfire prevention will be a prominent part of the Washington legislature’s agenda in 2020. Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is proposing the state create a new Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness Account.

“Every year, on average, we’re spending about $153 million just to respond to fires," Franz said. "The fact is we will not be able to change the trajectory we’re on of increasing wildfires throughout our state and the increasing cost of wildfires unless we start getting at the front end of the problem.”

She is proposing a surcharge on property and casualty insurance premiums.

NASA Earth Observatory

Fire crews are making progress on the fire that has scorched about 40,000 acres of the Colville Indian Reservation.

“We’ve had rain on and off today. Our temperatures are cooler and we’re just now starting to clear this afternoon," said Elizabeth Shepard, one of the people briefing reporters about the Williams Flats Fire, burning near Keller, Washington.

KOMO Television

 

The Washington Department of Natural Resources hopes the legislature will approve a larger budget for forest health and fire prevention.

The agency has put together its two-year budget wish list that will be presented to the governor and legislature in January.

Spokane Public Radio

The battle for a Washington state House seat in the 7th Legislative District pits a newcomer Democratic candidate against the Republican incumbent, who has only held the seat for a few months.

It's an unusually bad wild fire season in the West, and for weeks people across the region have been breathing air thick with smoke.

"There's smoke from Canada, smoke from Idaho, smoke from California and Montana. There's smoke everywhere," says Greg Svelund, a spokesman for Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality.

Will Folsom via Flickr, Creative Commons License

Rural fire crews in northeast Washington are on alert, hoping no major fires break out before the rains finally arrive.

The ponderosa forests of Stevens County are tinder dry right now, and fire managers hope they have enough resources to be able to handle what might be in store before fire season is over.

Labrador Calls on Congress to Pass Wildfire Bill

Sep 6, 2017
USA Today

Idaho Republican U.S. Representative Raul Labrador is pushing his colleagues to pass a bill aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires.

On Wednesday afternoon, Labrador issued a statement calling for the House to vote on a bill known as the Resilient Federal Forests Act, a bill on which he’s a co-sponsor. The Republican-led House approved it last year, but the Senate never considered it.

Wildfires burning in the Western U.S. are threatening some of America's most treasured national parks – and in some areas, the damage has already been done.

Last week in Montana, a 20-square-mile blaze burned the historic Sperry Chalet, a hotel and dining room built in 1914 and only reachable by trail.

Schools Cancel Outdoor Activities

The air quality in our region is the worst it has been since the big fires in the summer of 2015. Officials are warning folks to try to limit their exposure to the outside air if possible.

Bob Lutz is the Spokane County Health officer who says the particulate levels are now bad enough they pose a risk to everyone, not just those with breathing disorders like asthma.

The wildfire smoke in Washington state has been extreme for days now, and many are wondering just when the air might clear out. An atmospheric scientist from the Washington Department of Ecology thinks the severe wildfire smoke may start to clear out a bit by Thursday for the western part of the state, but linger longer in the east. According to Ranil Dahmmapala,  “The good news is from the weekend onward, there’s a good chance for a pattern shift, and we might have southwest winds to blow some of the smoke away and keep the British Columbia smoke away for a while.”





A state of emergency, excessive heat and an extended period of dry weather are unlikely to pair well with an influx of up to 1.5 million visitors in Oregon in two weeks.

A summer filled with wildfires means air conditions in the Northwest are going from bad to worse. Fires from British Columbia and around Washington state have contributed to a smoky week.

Like a dreamy scene, the Yakima Valley is blanketed in thick haze. But the reality is not so serene. Coupled with high temperatures and humidity, the smog is taking its toll on local residents.

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