wildfire

Mari C Shanta / via Facebook

It is one of the great fears of our time and place: that a huge fire will blow through our community, destroying our homes. 

It has even come true, sadly, in Weed and other towns.  Can we prevent huge and destructive "megafires"? 

Paul Hessburg, who works for the Forest Service and the University of Washington, thinks so.  He is the presenter of a traveling multimedia exhibit called "Era of Megafires" now visiting towns in the West. 

Lane Fire Alderwood Station 114 via Facebook

UPDATE MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 8:00 a.m.

The crews have made tremendous progress in mopping up this fire. They have spent the last several days working to extinguish all smokes around the rim of the fire. In most places crews have a 200 feet zone and are working towards 400 feet.

 

BLM Resources Advisors are finalizing plans to repair the federal lands affected by this fire. This includes pull back of any dozers berms and installing water bars to direct water off skid trails to prevent sediment delivery into streams. 

 

ODF

Life returned to normal in areas around the Redwood Highway Fire on Saturday. 

By evening, firefighters had the fire nearly contained, and evacuation orders were being relaxed.

ODF

Saturday, 8:30 AM: Three homes and at least five outbuildings destroyed by the fire.  The fire itself at 85 percent containment, kept to roughly 50 acres.  One spot fire extinguished downwind from main fire.  Deer Creek Road still closed, evacuations and road closures to be evaluated later in the day.

The pointer recently moved another click to the right: fire danger is now High in much of the region. 

It is now a question of when, not if, firefighters get busy keeping wildfires from growing out of control. 

The strategy involves heavy use of aircraft these days. 

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and Oregon Department of Forestry are among the agencies and jurisdictions that keep firefighters on standby for the ground and the air. 

Where there's smoke, there's fire.  Where there's fire, there's Stephen Pyne

He may be the foremost authority on wildfire on the continent, with more than a dozen books to his credit.  They include a work called Between Two Fires, detailing the tug-of-war between all-out fire suppression and the deliberate use of fire to help maintain a forest. 

And he visits an area that is no stranger to wildfires--ours--with an Ashland appearance tonight (June 22). 

Joshua Veal / USFS

During the summer of 2014, wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres of the Klamath National Forest in northern California’s Siskiyou County.

Last year, the US Forest Service proposed a program of salvage logging, replanting and hazardous tree removal. That plan faced opposition from environmental groups and the Karuk Indian tribe.

Now, a modified version of the plan has been approved, and was immediately met with a challenge in federal court.

Worldview-3

Fires roared through several parts of the Klamath National Forest in the summer of 2014, and now forest leaders have an official plan to clean up after them. 

The Westside Fire Recovery Project is now officially in motion, a plan to salvage some timber and treat other areas, even burn some of them. 

Controversy followed the plan as it took shape, and stays with it today.  It is already being taken to court.

We spend the hour talking in turn with several people interested in the outcome, including forest managers, the American Forest Resource Council, the Karuk Tribe, and KS Wild

Courtesy of Cal Fire

You can be prepared, but few people can claim to be READY for a disaster. 

Disaster struck the city of Weed more than a year ago, in the form of a fire that burned 150 homes. 

Now the city is embarking on the Resilience Weed project, designed to get the town and its residents better prepared for similar or other disasters in the future. 

Lesley McClurg/CPR

The recent Valley Fire, north of Napa, scorched more than 75,000 acres and destroyed nearly 1,300 homes. Thousands of people were displaced. Imagine if you were one of them, you lost everything but were scared to ask for help. 

That’s the reality for many undocumented families in the area.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife

September has been lovely and largely free of smoke around the region.  The excessively smoky conditions of August, caused by wildfires, are behind us. 

But more smoke arrives with fall: smoke from prescribed burns regulated by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). 

200,000 acres are burned each year, and ODF might increase that total, to avoid dealing with wildfires later. 

Michael Richardson/Wikimedia

Fire and water both figure prominently in the state of the forests in our region. 

The size and intensity of fires indicates and determines forest health, and so does the health of native fish. 

So it seems natural to talk fire and water together... scientists Dominick DellaSala of Geos Institute and Jack Williams of Trout Unlimited join forces to talk about forests from their perspective this week at ScienceWorks in Ashland (September 24th). 

Stouts Creek Fire Facebook Page

How hot a wildfire burns can determine which bird species show up when the fire is over. 

That's the basic finding of a ten-year study that focused on fire effects on bird populations after the Quartz Fire of 2001 on the Oregon side. 

The Klamath Bird Observatory's science director, Jaime Stephens, is the lead author of the study. 

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Forests have a way of regenerating after devastating fires.

Human-built amenities in or near the forests take a bit of time and attention.

The Biscuit Fire burned through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest 13 years ago.

And it was just recently that members of the Siskiyou Mountain Club completed the rebuilding of a trail through the burn area.

HarperCollins

Imagine the danger in fighting wildland fires.

Now imagine fighting wildland fires AFTER jumping out of an airplane. 

Jason Ramos does it for a living, and tells his story in the book Smokejumper

Kari Greer | California Interagency Incident Management Team

Fire season has already begun, with the usual discussions of which fires are burning where, and how big.

Scientist Dominick DellaSala of the GEOS Institute is less concerned with individual fires than with the overall approach to wildfire. 

We know fire is a normal part of life processes in any forest. 

But it may be that even the more intense fires--the ones often labeled "catastrophic"--are natural and necessary. 

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

The flurry of lightning-caused fires from earlier this week continues to keep firefighters employed.  Meanwhile, parts of the region are shifting the official fire danger level to HIGH.

Douglas Forest Protective Association

Five days into fire season on the Oregon side, crews stayed busy hunting and fighting fires caused by lightning on Monday and Tuesday (June 8th-9th).

Oregon Department of Forestry reports roughly two dozen fires from lightning strikes in the southwestern part of the state. 

Geoffrey Riley/JPR

A series of lightning storms swept through the region starting early Tuesday, waking up Rogue Valley residents and keeping firefighters busy looking for new fires.

Loud thunder rumbled Ashland-area homes just after 4 AM, accompanied by brief but heavy rain.

Getting Even Fire Wiser In Ashland

Apr 10, 2015
Oregon.gov

Ashland, built on forested hills, has always been especially vulnerable to wildfire.

11 homes were lost in the Oak Knoll fire of five years ago, and firefighters are determined to minimize the risk of a future such fire.

So several sections of town have been designated "Firewise" communities.

More than in any other city in the country, we're told.

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