Oregon's Summer Of Smoke

These reports cover from various angles the issues that arose in the summer of 2017 when large-scale wildfires around Oregon triggered evacuations, destroyed homes and caused unhealthy air, raising public concerns and, sometimes, anger.

Liam Moriarty/ JPR News

Restoration efforts in the Chetco Bar fire in southwest Oregon are getting underway.  While most of the area was lightly burned or even unburned, more than a third of the acreage suffered severe or moderate tree damage.

Federal forest managers are gearing up to authorize salvage logging in some of the more badly-burned areas. Local elected officials are pushing hard for cutting those trees. But others question whether the long-term costs outweigh the short term benefits.

US Forest Service

The Chetco Bar fire in southwestern Oregon was the state’s biggest wildfire of 2017, burning just over 191,000 acres, mostly in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Seven homes were lost and hundreds of people had to evacuate from Brookings and nearby communities.

Now, specialists have assessed the damage to the landscape and repair work is getting underway. But the full impact will largely depend on this winter’s weather, and on management decisions that have yet to be made.

Inciweb.nwcg.gov

The Chetco Bar fire, near Brookings on Oregon’s south coast, simmered for weeks in the scars of previous fires in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness before breaking out in mid-August. As the fire raced across the landscape, driven by high winds, the firefighting effort came under growing criticism.

Liam Moriarty / JPR News


At a public meeting in Brookings, Oregon Thursday evening, officials with the US Forest Service explained why they decided to the fight the Chetco Bar fire the way they did.

But many in the audience remained unconvinced the Forest Service did all it could do to prevent the spread of what become a huge and costly fire.

inciweb.nwcg.gov

The dozens of fires burning in the Northwest this summer forced thousands of people from their homes and cast clouds of heavy smoke that kept residents inside and ruined untold numbers of vacations. That’s led to some vigorous finger-pointing on editorial pages, talk radio and social media. JPR asked some forest experts for a reality check.

Liam Moriarty / JPR News

The wildfires burning in much of Oregon this summer have blanketed the state with unhealthy levels of smoke. This has led a growing number of outdoor events to cancel during the height of the summer tourist season. At a time when many rural Oregon communities are already struggling, the economic impact could really hurt.

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

The persistent haze of smoke from the wildfires burning around the Northwest has led many people to wear face masks to protect their lungs. But health officials say many of those masks aren’t doing what the wearers think they are.