11:21 am
Mon October 1, 2012

After The Fire, Bring On The Bugs

Horntail or wood wasps are drawn to burned forests. They deposit their eggs in downed trees.

Wildfires have already scorched more than one million acres across the Northwest this year. It may take years before the signs of the burns are no longer visible. But charred Northwest forests are already a-buzz with new life.

Burned forests are not quiet places.

“It’s very lively in the forest immediately after a fire," says Connie Mehmel. "Very lively. And a lot of that liveliness is insects.”

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10:30 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Northwest’s Fire Season Overlapping With Hunting Season

Wildfires have closed some prime hunting grounds in the Northwest
Dennis Stern USFS Gila National Forest

Evacuation notices around the Northwest have subsided as fire crews beat back the threat of wildfire to homes and subdivisions.

Officials have removed an alert near Sisters, Oregon, where the Pole Creek Fire is 80 percent contained. In Idaho, the Idaho County Sheriff lifted an evacuation order near the McGuire Complex in the Nez Perce National Forest. And crews at the Wenatchee Complex in Washington have been reduced by half since last weekend.

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11:27 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Surrounded By Wildfires, Schools Try To Keep Smoke Out

Smoke is so heavy in central Washington, health officials are urging residents to keep their doors and windows closed and stay inside.
Jeff Penman InciWeb

Wildfire smoke is becoming the “new normal” for some parts of the Northwest. In central Washington, health officials are urging residents to keep their doors and windows closed and stay inside. Bad air has forced at least one school district to take some unusual measures to keep class in session.

The town of Cashmere is at the geographic center of Washington –- and about 8 miles from one of the state’s largest wildfires. Cashmere schools closed last week due to hazardous air, both inside and outside classrooms.

Now, school is back in session. With a few modifications.

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11:19 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Smoke Creating Vicious Cycle In NW Skies, Says Forecaster

Smoke from wildfires can create some spectacular sunsets -- like this one near Boise, Idaho.
Jim Larson Flickr

The fight against numerous large fires in central Washington is turning the corner. Since the weekend, fire bosses have been able to release nearly 400 firefighters from the blazes near Wenatchee.

But forecasters say it may be a while before the Inland Northwest sees clear, blue skies again.

U.S. Forest Service researcher Miriam Rorig  says smoke projections show poor conditions east of the Cascades hanging on through the week and spreading into north Idaho.

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Salmon gets rain
3:41 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Rain Brings Some Breathing Relief in Salmon

Smoke over the Salmon River on September 20th.
Credit Beale Monday / Salmon-Challis National Forest

Salmon has seen some of the worst air quality in Idaho this year.  This month, the town has had several “purple” or very unhealthy air quality days.  The Mustang Complex fire is still burning mostly uncontained near the mountain town.  Smoke from the blaze has plagued the area for weeks.   

But a trace of rain over the weekend and into Monday has given residents of Salmon some much-needed fresh air.

“We’ve never been so happy to see rain in I don’t know how long," says Salmon Public Library employee Anne Schwartz. "So we are thanking God for sure.”

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Air Quality
6:13 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Treasure Valley Air Quality Not As Bad As It Looks

Boise sky at about 9:45 Thursday morning
Aaron Kunz Earthfix

The air quality has not been good today in the Treasure Valley, but it’s not as bad as it looks. The sky has had a yellow brown tinge to it making it look worse than it is according to Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality. Dave Luft, a DEQ air-shed manager, says you can’t always judge the air quality by the sky.

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4:07 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Destructive Fire Near Boise Started By Firefighter

Dale Rodgers (foreground) pulled the arson suspect of the fire crew. Rodgers later arrested the suspect, questioned him, obtained a confession and drove him to jail in Ada County.
Adam Cotterell Boise State Public Radio

The Karney Fire north of Boise has destroyed one home and threatens between 75 and 100 more. It started Monday night in the Wilderness Ranch subdivision between Boise and Idaho City. The Boise County sheriff says it was arson and an 18 year old fire fighter has been arrested. 

Sheriff’s officials in Boise County arrested Nathaniel Bartholomew.  He’s charged with setting the Karney fire. The Sheriff's office says Bartholomew was seen in the area right before the fire started. 

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9:20 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Karney Fire Grows, More Homes Evacuated

More homes are now threatened by the Karney fire burning near Robie Creek Road northeast of Boise. Officials say the fire jumped a containment line in the Mitchell Gulch area and now threatens between 75 and 100 homes in the Wilderness Ranch subdivision.  The fire burned one home Monday.

The Boise County Sheriff's Department evacuated residents Tuesday morning near Rush Creek Road and the top part of Evergreen Road.  Both are in the Wilderness Ranch subdivision.   About 20 homes were evacuated Monday.

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9:28 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Fires Not All Bad For Local Economies

The influx of firefighters to a wildfire can offset economic damage to tourism and natural resources.
U.S. Forest Service

Researchers at the University of Oregon have been looking into the economic impact of large wildfires. Their findings indicated that there can actually be an upside to local economies.

Cassandra Moseley directs the U of O's Institute for a Sustainable Environment. She and her team studied what happened after a series of fires in northern California in 2008.

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Forest fire outlook
6:00 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Fire Officials Look To Fall Weather For Respite

Credit Salmon-Challis National Forest

Idaho’s forest fires have claimed 1.5 million acres this year, from more than 1,000 separate fires.

One of the largest fires, the Mustang Complex, has burned 297,550 acres and is only 16 percent contained.  

As fall sets in, fire officials hope to be rounding the corner on the magnitude and impact of the fires still burning. Jeremy Sullens is a wildland fire analyst with the National Interagency Fire Center.

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10:34 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Chilly Weather Helping Idaho Firefighters

Salmon Challis National Forest

The sheriff in Lemhi County today lifted an evacuation order for about 25 homes in the Indian Creek area.  The sheriff cited recent success in fighting the Mustang Complex, and cooler weather as factors in the decision.  

Those residents were evacuated on August 23.  Other evacuation orders, including Sunday’s that affected around 400 homes, are still in effect. 

Firefighters began their work today with temperatures below freezing.  Temperatures in the higher elevations were in the teens.  Highs today are expected to reach about 70 this afternoon. 

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9:39 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

State's Largest Fire Burns Across The Road From Idaho Town

A view from the Village at North Fork Monday night
Tam Ambrose

The Mustang Fire Complex has burned about 290,000 acres in the Salmon-Challis National Forrest near the Montana border. It’s now 1.5 miles from the town of North Fork. Monday night Tam Ambrose could see it from her window.

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11:33 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Report Assesses Wildfire Risk In Idaho, 12 Other Western States

Brad Washa Boise National Forest

A new report on wildfires and risk in Western states says Idaho has nearly 4,000 homes considered to be at very high risk of burning in a potential fire.  The report was compiled by California-based CoreLogic and looked at potential threats in 13 states.

CoreLogic created four risk levels and then estimated how many homes exist in each.  The numbers for Idaho are as follows:  Low: 20,192; Moderate: 11,894; High: 6,706; and Very High: 3,927.   

All together, nearly 740,000 Western homes are considered at high or very-high risk.

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3:55 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Mustang Complex Fire Advances Near North Fork

Credit Lisa Radosevich-Craig / Salmon Challis National Forest

Activity from the Mustang Complex fire is causing more evacuations along the Highway 93 corridor. Over the weekend the fire grew more than 20,000 acres, and is within a mile and a half of North Fork.

About 400 people between Quartz Creek and North Fork have been asked to evacuate, including residents in Gibbonsville.

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1:12 pm
Sun September 9, 2012

New Evacuations Ordered In Lemhi County

Evacuation map for the Mustang Complex fire near Salmon.

The Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office Sunday ordered the evacuation of residents in the Highway 93 corridor near Salmon.  The evacuation order comes as the Mustang Complex fire burns close to the highway. 

The Sheriff’s Department said early Sunday the fire was less than two miles from the road.  Residents between Quartz Creek and North Fork have been told to leave immediately to avoid getting caught in smoke, fire or road congestion.

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8:53 am
Mon September 3, 2012

Why The Northwest Will Continue To See Large Wildfires

Some of the scorched earth and trees from the Taylor Bridge fire not far from Liberty, Wash.
Anna King Northwest News Network

The large Taylor Bridge fire that burned in central Washington is now 100 percent contained.  Now, forest scientists say Northwest residents should brace for more such large fires.  Munching insects, parasitic plants and global climate change are part of the problem.

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1:40 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Halsted Fire 'Very Active' Wednesday, Forces Highway 75 Closure

Authorities now say a section of Highway 75 is closed to traffic after significant growth from the Halsted fire near Stanley. 

Only those being allowed to use the highway between Lower Stanley and Gardner Creek are local drivers.  The closure is between mile marker 192 and 206.6. 

Authorities closed the highway on Wednesday evening after the fire made a 3,000 acre burn around Basin Creek, towards the highway. 

Drivers are asked to find alternate routes.  Officials it’s not clear when the road will be allowed to open to all traffic.

12:50 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Wildfire Evacuees In Idaho Go Home, Temporarily

The Trinity Ridge Fire started August 3, 2012. It's human caused and to date has burned more than 132,000 acres.

Residents of Pine and Featherville -- who've been evacuated because of a wildfire - were temporarily allowed back in their homes Tuesday.   Officials say it's still too smokey and risky to let them back in for good.

The Trinity Ridge Fire has threatened these communities for days now. At more than 132,000 acres, fire crews now have it 10 percent contained. They've shored up a six mile stretch through Featherville and south to Pine. 

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9:40 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Rural Firefighting Forces Harder To Maintain

Volunteer firefighter Cheyne Anderson of Pend Oreille Fire District 4 waits beside the engine during a training exercise near Newport, Wash.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

When a wildfire breaks out in rural parts of the Northwest, the first people on the scene are often volunteer firefighters. Much of the region relies on these unpaid first responders who have day jobs of their own. But changes in rural America are conspiring to make volunteer forces harder to maintain. And that could make it more difficult for communities to respond to emergencies like wildfire.

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Health Insurance
11:11 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Seasonal Firefighters Receive Health Insurance, But Not All Are Satisfied

Emma Kaage modifies many of her exercises in CrossFit because of her broken tailbone. She still goes to the intense workout twice a day, as well as three physical therapy appointments a week.
Credit Jessica Murri / Boise State Public Radio

It’s the height of fire season in Idaho and hundreds of seasonal firefighters are busy.

For the first time, they’re eligible for federal health insurance. President Obama made the change in July.

Many of these firefighters have gone without insurance because of the cost. While the new benefits have been welcomed, one Boise-based firefighter finds that the new health insurance won’t help her.

Emma Kaage lifts a 95 pound barbell above her head, and lets it drop to the floor, before she picks it up again. The 25-year-old does CrossFit training twice a day.

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