Okanogan County fires threaten hundreds of homes, bring smoke, poor air quality to Methow Valley

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/okanogan-county-fires-bring-smoke-and-bad-air-quality-to-methow-valley-force-evacuations/

July 23, 2021 at 3:20 pm Updated July 23, 2021 at 8:01 pm  

Three large wildfires burning in Okanogan County forced the closure of a stretch of the SR 20 North Cascades Highway west of Mazama. (WSDOT)
Three large wildfires burning in Okanogan County forced the closure of a stretch of the SR 20 North Cascades Highway west of Mazama. (WSDOT)

Skip Adhttps://95569f3c26d7557bd4853630b6933896.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlBy Elise Takahama and Christine ClarridgeSeattle Times staff reporters

Firefighters battled at least three wildfires Friday in Okanogan County that threatened hundreds of homes and briefly clogged the Methow Valley with hazardous smoke. 

The Cedar Creek blaze, which is burning five miles southwest of Mazama, and the Cub Creek 2 fire, burning five miles north of Winthrop, prompted evacuations throughout the area.

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The blazes are two of at least 15 large wildfires currently burning in the Pacific Northwest — eight in Washington and seven in Oregon — across 638,000 acres. In Oregon, firefighters are dousing flames east of Roseburg, south of Detroit Lake and northeast of Sprague River, among other spots. The Bootleg fire in southern Oregon is particularly concerning to officials, who say it’s become so large and is generating so much energy and heat that it’s changing the weather.

In Washington, the Cedar Creek fire, which was ignited by lightning on July 8, had grown to 20,806 acres (32 square miles) and was 11% contained by Friday afternoon, said Pam Sichting, information officer with Northwest Incident Management Team 8. It’s threatening 1,449 structures, including homes, garages and woodsheds, and continues to burn through the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest on steep and rocky terrain.

It’s unclear how many people have been evacuated, since officials have been prioritizing counting residences and structures, Sichting said.ADVERTISINGSkip Adhttps://95569f3c26d7557bd4853630b6933896.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlSkip Adhttps://95569f3c26d7557bd4853630b6933896.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlSkip Adhttps://95569f3c26d7557bd4853630b6933896.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The Cedar Creek fire “is backing down in the majority of the area into some old dozer line we opened up from previous fires,” Sichting said, referring to a cleared area bulldozed around the perimeter of the blaze.

The southeast corner of the fire became more active Friday afternoon, so crews focused their efforts there, she said.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=elisetakahama&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1418604895561654277&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.seattletimes.com%2Fseattle-news%2Fenvironment%2Fokanogan-county-fires-bring-smoke-and-bad-air-quality-to-methow-valley-force-evacuations%2F&sessionId=df31962537e938f4a966829752a7f2374302d7e2&siteScreenName=seattletimes&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px

The Cub Creek 2 fire started July 16 and has grown to about 40,000 acres (62 square miles). It is 5% contained and is threatening 271 residences, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. The blaze has destroyed at least one home, the center said.

Joe Zwierzchowski, a spokesperson for the incident management team handling the Cub Creek 2 fire, said the blaze had started moving away from homes Friday afternoon.

Although thick smoke from the Cedar Creek and Cub Creek 2 fires settled into the North Central Washington valley overnight, the air has since started to clear out, Sichting said. By Friday afternoon, it was safe for crews to deploy aircraft to battle the flames from above.

“This clear air spooks people sometimes because they’ll see more smoke rising (out of the area) than they normally do, but it comes with the benefit of getting a more aggressive approach … and hitting some of the hotter spots with aircraft using water and retardant,” Zwierzchowski said.ADVERTISINGSkip Ad

He said the Cub Creek 2 fire had forced dozens of people to evacuate, but he didn’t have an exact number.

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On both Thursday and Friday morning, the air quality index in Winthrop climbed over 400, according to Air Quality Index’s real-time map, meaning it was hazardous to everyone.

Meanwhile, near the Colville Indian Reservation, the Chuweah Creek fire has consumed 36,730 acres (57 square miles). The smaller Summit Trail fires, at less than 6,000 acres (9 square miles), however, were putting out most of the smoke and creating “unhealthy” air quality conditions between 150 and 200. 

Anyone in need of shelter can contact the Red Cross at 509-670-5331. The organization has opened stand-by shelter at the Methow Valley Elementary School in Winthrop.

California’s largest wildfire is threatening thousands of structures

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/25/weather/dixie-fire-california-update/index.html

By Dakin Andone, CNN

Updated 3:53 PM ET, Sun July 25, 2021

Crew battling Tamarack Fire makes narrow escape out of fire and flames

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Flash flooding continues to threaten the Southwest this weekend

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NOW PLAYINGCrew battling Tamarack Fire makes narrow escape out of fire and flamesCNN00:35/00:48Now PlayingCrew battling Tamarack…

Source: CNNCrew battling Tamarack Fire makes narrow escape out of fire and flames 00:48

(CNN)California’s largest wildfire has destroyed multiple buildings and is threatening thousands more as the battle against the blaze stretched into its 12th day. Low moisture in vegetation and limited access in the remote area have hampered firefighters, officials said.

The largest fire in the US continues to defy crews' efforts to tame it. And the weather isn't helping

The largest fire in the US continues to defy crews’ efforts to tame it. And the weather isn’t helpingThe Dixie Fire had grown to 190,625 acres and was 21% contained as of Sunday morning, according to Cal Fire, with more than 5,000 firefighters and personnel fighting the fire.

The fire, which began July 14, has destroyed 16 structures — residential, commercial and otherwise — Cal Fire officials said in an update Sunday. More than 10,700 structures in Butte and Plumas Counties are threatened.

The Dixie Fire remained active overnight, officials said. It “continues to burn in a remote area with limited access, and extended travel times with steep terrain are hampering control efforts.”

Flames consume a home as the Dixie Fire tears through the Indian Falls community in Plumas County.Flames consume a home as the Dixie Fire tears through the Indian Falls community in Plumas County.The fire crossed Highway 70 and Highway 89 on Saturday, forcing firefighters to protect the communities of Paxton and Indian Falls. Officials said a damage assessment team will survey the extent of structure damage once conditions are safer.”Extreme fire behavior is expected again today,” the update said.

The Dixie Fire has forced numerous evacuation orders, including along the west shore of Lake Almanor in Plumas County.Cindy Pierson, a resident of Quincy who’s been forced to evacuate, told CNN affiliate KCRA she was “very anxious” about the wildfire.”It’s scary,” said Pierson. She told the station she’d lived in Quincy for just three months. “I’ve never been through anything like this.”Residents wait for a trailer to evacuate horses at a ranch in Crescent Mills on July 24.Residents wait for a trailer to evacuate horses at a ranch in Crescent Mills on July 24.”I want to come home as soon as possible, and I want there to be a home,” she said.Another resident, Henry Riel, said the fires meant residents had to be ever-vigilant, prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.”You pray that the wind goes the right way,” he said. “But when it turns you’ve just got to be prepared to move and get ready to go.”Wildfires burning in Northern California prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday to declare a state of emergency in four counties, allowing officials access to increased resources.A home burns as flames from the Dixie fire tear through the Indian Falls neighborhood on July 24.A home burns as flames from the Dixie fire tear through the Indian Falls neighborhood on July 24.The declaration included Alpine, Lassen, Plumas and Butte counties, the latter of which was the site of the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history in 2018.The blaze is just one of 86 large wildfires — many of them in the West — burning more than 1.4 million acres across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Tamarack Fire is burning along the state’s border with Nevada and has scorched more than 66,000 acres, per InciWeb, a clearinghouse for wildfire information in the US. It’s 27% contained.On Sunday, officials announced the sheriff’s offices of Alpine and El Dorado Counties would begin escorting evacuated residents back into the area to retrieve pets and important papers, depending on the fire’s activity.

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https://www.newkerala.com/news/2021/103962.htm

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Crews make progress on huge Oregon wildfire, homes threatened in California

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/crews-make-progress-huge-oregon-wildfire-homes-threatened-california-n1274903

The blaze is among a number burning across the U.S. west, where recent heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight.

Image: Bootleg Fire Continues To Burn Across Southern Oregon

Fire Information Officer Jacob Welsh observes smoldering trees on the northern front of the Bootleg Fire Silver Creek, Oregon on Friday.Mathieu Lewis-Rolland / Getty ImagesJuly 24, 2021, 5:37 AM PDTBy The Associated Press

The nation’s largest wildfire raged through southern Oregon on Friday, but crews were scaling back some night operations as hard work and weaker winds helped reduce the spread of flames even as wildfires continued to threaten homes in neighboring California.

In Montana, five firefighters remained hospitalized a day after a thunderstorm and swirling winds blew a lightning-caused wildfire back on them, federal officials said.

The five had joined other crews working on the 1,300-acre Devil’s Creek fire burning in rough, steep terrain near the rural town of Jordan. The firefighters were building a defensive line Thursday when the weather shifted, Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Mark Jacobsen said.

Large wildfire scorches Oregon

JULY 16, 202101:20

Jacobsen declined to release the extent of the firefighters’ injuries but said they were still being evaluated and treated Friday. The firefighters included three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crew members from North Dakota and two USDA Forest Service firefighters from New Mexico.

The blaze is among a number burning across the U.S. West, where extremely dry conditions and recent heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight.

In Oregon, the Bootleg Fire has destroyed an area half the size of Rhode Island. It was 40% surrounded after burning some 70 homes, mainly cabins, fire officials said. At least 2,000 homes were ordered evacuated at some point during the fire, and an additional 5,000 were threatened.

The upper eastern edge of the fire continued to move toward Summer Lake, jumping fire lines Thursday and prompting an evacuation order for some portions of Lake County to be raised to “Go now!” fire officials said.

Winds up to 10 mph (16 kph) could drive the flames through timber but not at the pace seen last week, when the wind-driven blaze grew exponentially, fire information officer Angela Goldman said.

The fire, which was ignited by lightning, had been expanding by up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) a day, pushed by strong winds and critically dry weather.

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There was good news on the lower portion of the 625-square-mile (1,619-square-kilometer) blaze. Crews had locked in containment lines and on the lower southeastern side, they were able to gain a substantial foothold, allowing them to cut back to nighttime patrols from what had been a “24-7 run-and-gun” fight, fire information officer Sarah Gracey said.

“For us, that’s a pretty big step,” she said. “It’s not that easy to work in a pitch-black forest in the middle of the night.”

On Friday, authorities said they would be keeping an eye on changing wind conditions.

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“The fire continues to throw challenges at us, and we are going to continue to stay vigilant, work hard and adapt,” Joe Hessel, incident commander for the Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team, said in a statement.

That side of the blaze also had burned into an area blackened by a previous fire, creating gaps in the fuel and reducing the spread of flames through grass, shrub and timber, Gracey said.

Image: Bootleg Fire Continues To Burn Across Southern Oregon
Downed trees smolder on the north front of the Bootleg Fire on Friday near Silver Creek, Oregon.Mathieu Lewis-Rolland / Getty Images

In California, the Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe has now burned more than 91 square miles of timber and head-high chaparral of mostly national forest land, fire officials said Friday.

The fire, sparked by lightning July 4 in Alpine County, has destroyed at least 10 buildings and forced the evacuation of more than 2,400 homes. That includes about 1,300 that were ordered evacuated for the first time Thursday when blowing embers ignited a new spot fire that jumped U.S. Highway 395 north of Topaz Lake on the California-Nevada line.

Pat Seekins, operations section chief for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team that was called in to manage the fire, said Friday they were shifting significant resources to its eastern flank along the state line. More than 1,300 firefighters were battling the overall fire, and more resources were on their way.

Seekins said the spot fire “grew very large” very quickly. It already has burned an estimated 10 square miles.

“We had a really active day yesterday. It was pretty severe,” he said. “It’s a very significant spot fire, and it’s going to take a lot of work. That will be a very high priority for us today.”

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners in Nevada declared a state of emergency and set up evacuation sites at a senior center and the Topaz Estates community center. Neighboring Lyon County opened one at Smith Valley High School.

Crews also continue to provide structure protection farther west in California near Markleeville, Woodfords and Crystal Springs south of California Highway 88, but the worst danger has passed there, Seekins said.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued Friday in Butte County, California, as the Dixie Fire continued to grow explosively eastward, becoming the state’s largest wildfire so far this year. On Thursday, officials in Plumas County in the Sierra Nevada west of the Nevada line also ordered evacuations.

The fire had burned more than 223 square miles as of Friday morning, fire officials said. It destroyed at least eight buildings and threatened at least 1,500 more.

Wildfires have erupted across the globe, scorching places that rarely burned before

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/22/world/wildfires-siberia-us-canada-climate-intl/index.html

By Ivana Kottasová, CNN
Photo editor Sarah Tilotta, CNN

Updated 6:16 AM ET, Thu July 22, 2021

(CNN)Yakutsk in Russian Siberia is known as the world’s coldest city. In a place where even an exposed nose during the winter months can cause biting pain, people are accustomed to taking precautions against freezing temperatures, including spending extra time in the morning to dress in many layers.But now the city is blanketed in haze as nearby wildfires tear through forests that have been parched by weeks of heatwaves. The fires are so big, and the winds strong, smoke is traveling as far away as Alaska.In the US, the Bootleg wildfire in Oregon has grown into a monstrous complex with its own weather, sending the dense smoke some 3,000 miles across one end of the continent to the other. New York City on Wednesday woke up to an intense red sunrise, the smell of wildfires and a thick brown haze.Firefighters in both countries, as well as British Columbia in Canada, are fighting a near-impossible battle to smother the infernos with water bombs and hoses, and preventing their spread by digging firebreaks.An aerial view shows a wildfire in Yakutia, Russia.An aerial view shows a wildfire in Yakutia, Russia.Wildfires burning out of control across the western US send haze across the continent to New York City, on July 20.Wildfires burning out of control across the western US send haze across the continent to New York City, on July 20.The smoke in the republic of Yukutia in Siberia was so thick on Tuesday that reconnaissance pilot Svyatoslav Kolesov couldn’t do his job. There was no way he could fly his plane in such poor visibility.Kolesov is a senior air observation post pilot in the far eastern Russian region of Yakutia. This part of Siberia is prone to wildfires, with large parts of the region covered in forests. But Kolesov told CNN the blazes are different this year.Enter your email to subscribe to the CNN Fareed Zakaria global analysis newsletter.close dialog

Receive Fareed Zakaria’s Global Analysisincluding insights and must-reads of world newsActivate Fareed’s BriefingBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.“New fires have appeared in the north of Yakutia, in places where there were no fires last year and where it had not burned at all before,” he said.Kolesov is seeing first hand what scientists have been warning about for years. Wildfires are becoming larger and more intense and they are also happening in places that aren’t used to them.”The fire season is getting longer, the fires are getting larger, they’re burning more intensely than ever before,” said Thomas Smith, an assistant professor in Environmental Geography at the London School of Economics.Employees of the forest protection service Yakutlesresurs rest as they dig a firebreak moat to stop a fire outside Magaras village in Yakutia.Employees of the forest protection service Yakutlesresurs rest as they dig a firebreak moat to stop a fire outside Magaras village in Yakutia.Many factors, like poor land management, play a role in wildfires, but climate change is making them more frequent and intense. Most of Europe, the Western US, southwest Canada and some regions of South America experienced drier-than-average conditions in June, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, making tinderboxes of forests.The wildfires in Yakutia have consumed more than 6.5 million acres since the beginning of the year,​ according to figures published by the country’s Aerial Forest Protection Service. That’s nearly 5 million football fields.https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/weather/wildfire-and-air-quality-tracker/embed.html?z=7.5&lnglat=-121.0981,42.60924&i=OR&l=s&hed=Latest%20growth%20of%20the%20Bootleg%20fire&initialWidth=930&childId=fire-tracker-embed&parentTitle=Wildfires%20have%20erupted%20across%20the%20globe%2C%20scorching%20places%20that%20have%20never%20burned%20before%20-%20CNN&parentUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2021%2F07%2F22%2Fworld%2Fwildfires-siberia-us-canada-climate-intl%2Findex.htmlTrees burn along Highway 89 during the Tamarack Fire in the Californian city of Markleeville on July 17.Trees burn along Highway 89 during the Tamarack Fire in the Californian city of Markleeville on July 17.In Oregon, eight fires have burned nearly 475,000 acres so far, in a fire season officials said was unlike any they’ve seen before. The Bootleg Fire is so large and generating so much energy and extreme heat that it’s creating its own clouds and thunderstorms.The Canadian province of British Columbia declared an emergency due to wildfires there effective Wednesday. Nearly 300 active wildfires have been reported in the province.Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist Ryan Berlin (L) and Bob Dillon watch the Bootleg Fire smoke cloud from Dillon's home in Beatty, Oregon, on July 16, 2021.Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist Ryan Berlin (L) and Bob Dillon watch the Bootleg Fire smoke cloud from Dillon’s home in Beatty, Oregon, on July 16, 2021.The Bootleg Fire illuminates the sky at night near Bly in Oregon on July 16.The Bootleg Fire illuminates the sky at night near Bly in Oregon on July 16.The wildfires are part of a vicious climate cycle. Not only is climate change stoking the fires, but their burning releases even more carbon into the atmosphere, which worsens the crisis.Some scientists say this year’s fires are particularly bad.”Already by mid July, the total estimated emissions is higher than a lot of previous years’ totals for summer periods, so that’s showing that this is a very persistent problem,” said Mark Parrington, senior scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.He said Yakutia has been experiencing high-intensity fires continuously since the last few days of June.”If I look at the time series, we see sort of equivalent levels of intensity, but for not for three weeks, you know, I think the longest one prior was maybe a couple of weeks or 10 days or something like that, so much more isolate,” he said, adding that the fire season usually lasts until mid August, so it’s likely the fires could continue.

More frequent and more intense

Smith said that while parts of Siberia and Canada have always experienced wildfires, the worry is that the fires are now becoming so much more frequent.”Once upon a time, you had a fire every 100 to 150 years in one location, which means the forest completely regenerates and you end up with a mature forest, and then the fire comes along, and then you start again,” he said.”What we’re seeing in some parts of Eastern Siberia is the fires are happening every 10 to 30 years now, in some places, and what that means is the forest is not going to be able to become mature, and you end up with an [ecosystem] shift to kind of a shrub land or swampy grassland.”Burned cars and structures are seen in Lytton, British Columbia, on Friday, July 9, 2021.Burned cars and structures are seen in Lytton, British Columbia, on Friday, July 9, 2021.A helicopter prepares to make a water drop as smoke billows along the Fraser River Valley near Lytton, British Columbia, Canada, on Friday, July 2, 2021.A helicopter prepares to make a water drop as smoke billows along the Fraser River Valley near Lytton, British Columbia, Canada, on Friday, July 2, 2021.Heatwaves and droughts are also making new areas vulnerable to fires.”In the Siberian Arctic, we’re concerned about the tundra ecosystem to the north of the forest, this would normally be too wet or frozen to burn,” Smith said. “In the last two years we saw a lot of fires in this ecosystem, which suggests that things are changing there.”That also has a serious, long-term effect on climate. The ash from fires could also accelerate global warming by darkening surfaces that would normally be lighter in color and would reflect more solar radiation.Areas affected by these fires also include peatlands, which are some of the most effective carbon sinks on the planet, Parrington said.

“If they’re burning, then it’s releasing carbon,” Parrington said. “It’s removing a carbon storage system that’s been there for thousands of years and so there’s potentially a knock-on impact from that.”

‘It’s a nightmare’: 300 wildfires blaze, another evacuation order issued as southern B.C. still parched

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/300-wildfires-blaze-another-evacuation-order-issued-as-southern-bc-still-parched?fbclid=IwAR2XrtaQx3DM0T8GK790Tw_hWp1bEo45bSVZ8y7RV3NBxb4NcE0S7panBvg

Emergency Management B.C. warns that available accommodation for thousands of wildfire evacuees strained to the limit in Thompson and Cariboo regions, with some evacuees being sheltered as far south as ChilliwackAuthor of the article:

Amy Smart, The Canadian PressPublishing date:Jul 19, 2021  •  1 day ago  •  4 minute read  •   Join the conversation

This handout photo courtesy of B.C. Wildfire Service shows a wildfire southwest of Deka Lake (C41102), which is estimated to be 200 hectares, British Columbia, on July 2, 2021.
This handout photo courtesy of B.C. Wildfire Service shows a wildfire southwest of Deka Lake (C41102), which is estimated to be 200 hectares, British Columbia, on July 2, 2021. PHOTO BY – /AFP

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MERRITT — A regional politician in British Columbia’s Interior is calling for more support amid a “dire” wildfire situation that he said has filled every available hotel with fleeing evacuees and stretched local security resources beyond their capacity.

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Ken Gillis, who chairs the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, signed an evacuation order Monday for 28 properties near the community of Westwold, the latest in a string of such orders he has signed in recent days. He had to direct the latest evacuees to Kelowna, more than 100 kilometres away, because of the lack of accommodations closer to home, he said.

B.C. wildfires: What to do if you are ordered to evacuate | Vancouver Sun
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The district also put in a request with the provincial government for an additional 100 to 150 security and policing personnel to secure evacuated areas.

“It’s a nightmare,” Gillis said in an interview Monday. “We have absolutely nothing left (for accommodations) in Kamloops, we have nothing left in Merritt, we have nothing left in Salmon Arm. They’re absolutely full.”

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Gillis said he considered directing evacuees to Cache Creek, but decided against it because the community is under an evacuation alert. An alert means residents must be prepared to leave their homes at a moment’s notice.

“Some of the places are just places we can’t send people to because two hours from then we might need to uproot them and send them somewhere else.”

A tree candles as the Tremont Creek wildfire burns behind the IG Machine & Fibers roofing granule plant, where rock is crushed and coloured and then shipped elsewhere to create roofing shingles, in Ashcroft, B.C., on Friday, July 16, 2021.
A tree candles as the Tremont Creek wildfire burns behind the IG Machine & Fibers roofing granule plant, where rock is crushed and coloured and then shipped elsewhere to create roofing shingles, in Ashcroft, B.C., on Friday, July 16, 2021. PHOTO BY DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS

The fires affecting the regional district were among some 300 burning across the province on Monday. Several new evacuation orders and alerts were posted over the weekend by regional governments across B.C.’s southern Interior.

They came as the provincial organization that co-ordinates emergency support warned that available accommodation for thousands of wildfire evacuees was strained to the limit in the Thompson and Cariboo regions, and some evacuees were being sheltered as far south as Chilliwack.

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Emergency Management B.C. has encouraged anyone who decided to leave their homes for larger communities due to smoky conditions to consider returning to make space for those facing a direct threat. Smoky conditions shift and move, so those who left their homes don’t necessarily reduce their exposure, it said in a statement Sunday.

Environment Canada had air quality statements in effect across Western Canada on Monday due to smoke from wildfires between British Columbia and Ontario.

Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO of the B.C. Hotel Association, said it has been working with Emergency Management B.C. for several weeks identifying and designating hotels with space for evacuees.

Overall, she said there were more rooms available than were needed, including in the Thompson and Cariboo regions, but the availability was concentrated in urban areas like the Lower Mainland.

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Part of the problem is a staffing shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which means some hotels don’t have enough staff to operate all of the rooms. While Jarrett did not have figures on overall room capacity, she said about 30,000 tourism and hospitality jobs are unfilled.

“We have some that have many rooms that are blocked off or wings that … they simply cannot sell them for whatever reason because they just don’t have anybody to clean the rooms,” she said.

International students, visitors on working holiday visas and others who often work in hotels haven’t yet returned to B.C., she said.

She also noted that motels, lodges and other accommodations qualify as emergency shelters in addition to hotels.

B.C. Wildfire Service responded to the Brenda Creek wildfire (K51924) burning south of the Okanagan Connector, highly visible from the roadside.
B.C. Wildfire Service responded to the Brenda Creek wildfire (K51924) burning south of the Okanagan Connector, highly visible from the roadside. PHOTO BY B.C. WILDFIRE SERVICE /PNG

Beyond his concerns about accommodation, Gillis said the regional district hopes that additional security and policing resources would keep people out of evacuated areas, prevent looting and give peace of mind to anyone who is hesitant to leave their homes that the area will be secured.

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Ultimately, he said he hopes the provincial government shares the request with their federal counterparts in case the Canadian Armed Forces can be called in.

“We’re looking for an organization of some sort that can bring on a full force that has its own accommodation, meals transport,” effectively setting up camps, Gillis said.

Emergency Management B.C. said in a statement the RCMP are working with the regional district on the request.

Dawn Roberts, director in charge of communications for the RCMP in B.C., said the Mounties have assigned a liaison officerto review it.

Typically, the Mounties will work with local governments to set up checkpoints as well as deploy roving officers. The RCMP identifies and deploys resources on a daily basis and has the benefit of drawing staff from other jurisdictions, she said.

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The RCMP is already readying additional resources for populated areas — like 100 Mile House, Ashcroft and Clinton — where evacuation alerts recently went into effect.

“We’re starting to ready those potential resources to either pre-deploy them into the communities and have them ready as necessary or to respond as necessary,” Roberts said.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

  1. B.C. wildfires: Province says accommodations for evacuees filling up as evacuations continue
  2. B.C. wildfires update for July 19: Farmers brace for new heat wave | Ashcroft under evacuation alert but threat is ‘minimal’ | Much of B.C. under smoky skies alerts

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Oregon’s Growing Bootleg Fire Is One of 70 Raging in US West Amid Heatwave

A firefighter out of California puts out hot spots on the Bootleg Fire north of Bly, Oregon, on July 17, 2021.
A firefighter out of California puts out hot spots on the Bootleg Fire north of Bly, Oregon, on July 17, 2021.

BYKenny StancilCommon DreamsPUBLISHEDJuly 18, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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Bolstering the case for meaningful action to address the climate emergency, the out-of-control Bootleg Fire that began on July 6 in southern Oregon has scorched more than 280,000 acres and is only 22% contained. It is the nation’s largest wildfire so far this year, and one of 70 large blazes currently torching the U.S. West, which is bracing for yet another heatwave.

To put Bootleg’s destructiveness into perspective, the fire — one of 10 burning in Oregon alone — has spread over 25,000 acres per day on average, or more than 1,000 acres every hour. According to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller, “That’s an area larger than the area of Central Park each hour, or a rate of a football field burned every five seconds” for 11 days.

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As the Washington Post reported Friday:

The Bootleg Fire’s expansion has destroyed 117 outbuildings and 67 residences in Klamath County, said Holly Krake, a spokeswoman for the Bootleg Fire Incident Management Team. The fire is still raging in Lake County, home to a population of more than 7,000 residents, and the damage is being assessed, she said.

As of Friday, Krake said, some 2,000 residents across both counties had been evacuated, with over 5,000 residences threatened by the growing flames.

With an unprecedented wildfire season underway, the American Red Cross has opened four shelters throughout the state, said Chad Carter, the organization’s Oregon regional communications director. He said they are prepared to open more if needed.

“We are all planning for this to be a prolonged event this summer,” Carter told the Post. “We’ve got several shelters open right now, and we’ll continue to adjust based on the need throughout the summer.”

In addition to causing displacement, state officials said the fire has endangered parts of the power grid, specifically transmission lines that carry electricity to California, CNN reported.

Alison Green, public affairs director for the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshals, told the Post that “we are seeing conditions that we usually see in mid-August. It’s been extreme fire behavior over the last week that has created conditions that are certainly challenging.”

In an online update, Rob Allen, incident commander for the Pacific Northwest Area Incident Management Team 2, noted that “the Bootleg Fire perimeter is more than 200 miles long. That’s an enormous amount of line to build and hold.”

Given its massive size and quick-moving pace, Ryan Berlin, a Bootleg Fire Zone 1 information officer, told the Post that there’s “a pretty good possibility” the Bootleg Fire could merge with the smaller Log Fire, which on Thursday “blew up also.”

While the spark that caused the Bootleg Fire remains under investigation, very dry fuel is abundant in Oregon and throughout the western U.S., where a dozen states are battling 70 active wildfire complexes.

For weeks, the region has suffered from record-high temperatures and a worsening drought. The severely hot and dry weather, which scientists say is inseparable from climatic disruptions driven by the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, has created the conditions for an especially catastrophic wildfire season that experts warn is far from over.

The deadly heatwave that recently pummeled the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada — described by a pair of climate scientists as “the most extreme in world weather records” — killed nearly 800 people in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, along with over one billion intertidal animals.

According to a rapid-response analysis conducted by a team of researchers, the dangerously high temperatures that helped make last month the hottest June in North America in recorded history “would have been virtually impossible” in the absence of the past two centuries of extracting and burning coal, oil, and gas — the primary source of growing carbon pollution.

Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA, on Friday said the same thing about the wave of wildfires now ravaging communities and ecosystems throughout the western U.S.

“We wouldn’t be seeing this giant ramp up in fire activity as fast as it is happening without climate change,” Williams told the New York Times. “There’s just no way.”

“Drought and high heat,” the Times noted Friday, “can kill trees and dry out dead grass, pine needles, and any other material on the bottom of the forest floor that act as kindling when a fire sweeps through a forest.”

According to Joe Hessel, an incident commander for the Oregon Department of Forestry, “This fire is going to continue to grow — the extremely dry vegetation and weather are not in our favor.”

Hessel’s ominous warning came as the U.S. West’s fourth heatwave in five weeks got under way in the northern Rockies and High Plains. Axios reported that from Saturday through at least Wednesday, temperatures in the area are expected to hit 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

Experts fear that the impending high-pressure system, known as a “heat dome,” could exacerbate existing fires or contribute to the formation of new ones.

According to the Times, parts of Idaho (17 active large fires), Montana (13), Wyoming (2), and Utah (1) could be hit with triple-digit highs over the weekend and into early next week, with temperatures peaking on Monday.

Ironically, one factor that could suppress temperatures slightly is a hazy sky due to smoke from nearby wildfires. CNN reported earlier this week that as a result of the ongoing blazes in the western U.S., most of the country, including states as far away as New York, “could see at least light surface-level wildfire smoke.” The news outlet noted that Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Minnesota issued air quality alerts.

According to the Post: “A major concern on Sunday and Monday is the prospect of dry thunderstorms, from the Sierra Nevada mountain range northward through much of northern Nevada, eastern Idaho, and central Montana. These storms could unleash cloud-to-ground lightning that ignites new blazes.”

Although he was pointing to this week’s devastating flooding in Germany and Belgium, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) could just as easily have been talking about the heatwaves, drought conditions, and fires clobbering the U.S. West when he said Saturday that “we are living through a climate catastrophe.”

Last week, climate justice advocates from the Sunrise Movement alluded to several extreme weather events and fossil fuel disasters that have occurred recently in the U.S. and came to the conclusion that “the time for incrementalism is over.”

Bowman amplified that message on Saturday, saying: “My colleagues in Congress have to understand. We don’t have 30 years. It’s now or never.”

“We have to redesign our economy to respond to the current crisis and to ensure it doesn’t get much, much worse,” he added.

US, Northwest pushing limits of firefighting resources: ‘Worst possible conditions’

https://www.oregonlive.com/wildfires/2021/07/us-northwest-pushing-limits-of-firefighting-resources-worst-possible-conditions.html

Today 7:30 AM43

Bootleg fireFacebook ShareTwitter ShareBy Jack Forrest | The Oregonian/OregonLive

U.S. Forest Service leaders got a message from their top boss Wednesday.

Chief Vicki Christiansen, the agency’s leader, announced that all Forest Service workers should immediately refocus their time and energy to address the country’s worsening wildfire season.

Fires were resisting control efforts, she said, and the West was bracing for more extreme weather in the coming months.

“We expect demand for resources to outpace resource availability, and our workforce remains fatigued and in need of recovery following last year’s record-setting fire season, an active hurricane season, and strenuous efforts to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Christiansen said in the letter.

It came the same day officials in the Northwest escalated their wildfire preparedness to the highest level, signaling they were using nearly all of their available firefighting resources.

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group followed suit with a nationwide declaration just hours later.

The parallel moves marked the earliest in over 10 years that the country had reached its Level 5 preparedness designation — and the earliest the Northwest had been bumped to that level in at least 15 years.

A federal Level 5 designation means over 80% of the country’s fire personnel are being used as officials from different regions compete for national resources.

By the time the Level 5 readiness went into effect, southern Oregon’s Bootleg fire had been the largest wildland blaze in the U.S. for two days, and Northwest fire officials had already dispatched 5,700 firefighters and other personnel to nine uncontained, large fires covering over 388,000 acres across Oregon and Washington.

A year ago at the same time, 256 firefighters had been dispatched to wildfires throughout the region. About 9,000 acres had burned.

The acreage burned in 2021 is more than five times the 10-year average for this time of year. It’s also the most acres burned by mid-July since 2012.

In other words: The Northwest’s wildfire season is off to a bad start, and regional fire managers need help — immediately.

“(The Northwest) is in a drought, we’ve had no significant rain across the region, and we have had record heat, and just all the worst possible conditions at one time,” said Suzanne Flory, a regional spokesperson for the Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management. “And we’re not alone.”

TRIAGING FIRE RESOURCES

About 338,000 acres are burning in the northern Rocky Mountains. More than 170,000 acres are ablaze in California. In all, 59 large, uncontained fires rage across the West.

Simultaneous wildfires, such as those seen this summer, prompt fire managers to begin to “triage” and make difficult decisions as to where they should allocate a dwindling amount of resources, Flory said.

“Of course somebody is going to be concerned about every fire, and we recognize that,” she told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “But can it safely be fought? And do we have the right resources to effectively fight that fire?”

Wildfires have no regard for state lines, county borders or agency jurisdictions. And when a wildfire breaks out in Oregon, it’s a team effort to respond as quickly as possible.

The initial attack is often the most important, so any firefighters in the area — from federal to local forces — will hop in to help.

Afterward, the remaining response is carried out by the agency in charge of the land. But if that agency exhausts its resources, state or federal fire crews can be pulled in to help.

Gov. Kate Brown, for example, can sign an executive order that allows Oregon agencies to aid in the response. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, which is based in Portland, also can dispatch federal fire crews.

The largest pool of firefighters available to Oregon managers is made up of federally trained contractors hired specifically to fight fires in Oregon, said Jim Gersbach, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Forestry.https://829b67f801f5c02e3e645e97aceda9bc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Those 308 crews, a total of 4,860 people, are available for assignment throughout the state. The Forestry Department was using about 11% of those contract crews as of Wednesday, in addition to the agency’s own 550 wildfire suppression specialists and forest officers, Gersbach said.

That leaves the remaining contract crews available to respond to new blazes that crop up — or help out with existing fires as needed.

Still, some resources are already stretched thin.

The Forestry Department has three incident management teams, which conduct the responses to major fires raging on state land, or help with other major blazes.https://829b67f801f5c02e3e645e97aceda9bc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

During a typical fire season, one team will be deployed to a fire, one will remain on call and the third will rest. But right now, the three crews are working the Bootleg, Grandview and Elbow Creek fires.

“So, if there were to be another fire, I mean, then we’d have all three of them deployed and there isn’t a fourth team,” Gersbach said Wednesday, when only two teams were in use.

The third team was dispatched Friday to the Elbow Creek fire after it grew to 9,000 acres in northeast Oregon.

WHERE THE NORTHWEST TURNS FOR HELP

So who bails out the feds when the feds are supposed to bail out the states?https://829b67f801f5c02e3e645e97aceda9bc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Other states, or even other countries.

The responsibility is initially shouldered by a Northwest pact, with regions surrounding Oregon and Washington offering their resources, should the two states run out. Northern California and neighboring Canadian provinces review their own resources to see what they can spare.

For example: California’s Office of Emergency Services on Friday sent 40 firefighting crews and firetrucks to help battle the Bootleg fire.

“We can call on them and say, ‘If you come down here we’ll pay your people to fight for us here,’ and then we can return the favor sometime, you know, when they get really busy if we’re not so busy,” said Robin Demario, a Northwest Interagency Coordination Center spokesperson.

After fire managers have already turned to regional partners, they look to crews in states that don’t typically see major wildfire seasons, like those on the East Coast, Gersbach said. Those resources are distributed by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise to different regions based on need.

The Northern Rockies region — Montana, Yellowstone National Park and parts of northern Idaho and North Dakota — is currently at the top of that priority list, according to Demario. The Northwest is just behind.https://829b67f801f5c02e3e645e97aceda9bc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Once local, state, regional and federal resources are sapped, Mexico and countries in the Southern Hemisphere can also send help, Gersbach said.

Firefighters from New Zealand and Australia have been known to aid the Northwest because their countries experience winter during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer.

The call for fire personnel also extends beyond those who physically battle the blazes. It includes those who are often missing during a shortage: middle-management workers or people keeping major fire bases running.

“I think people forget it’s more than just the firefighters,” Flory said. “Do we have enough caterers across the country right now? We do, but what if we keep having this kind of extreme wildland fire activity in different areas? You know, shower units, all those kinds of things play into it.”https://829b67f801f5c02e3e645e97aceda9bc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Also available to Oregon fire managers are members of the state’s National Guard — some of whom have already been mobilized to help direct traffic and contribute to less intensive firefighting operations.

DANGEROUS CONDITIONS PERSIST

Rising temperatures and dry conditions brought on by climate change continue to pull moisture from the landscape, leading to the worst drought in Oregon’s history. And droughts affecting the West create a tinderbox for potential lightning strikes that can leave embers smoldering for weeks before igniting a fire.

Conditions at the 241,496-acre Bootleg fire have been so dangerous that fire managers have taken the unusual step of pulling crews off their line for five consecutive days, fire operations spokesperson Holly Krake said Friday.https://www.youtube.com/embed/F8niuMKjzBk?feature=oembed

Nearly 2,000 personnel are staffing the blaze, which has created clouds large enough to make their own weather — spitting out what are essentially fire tornadoes. The fire is 7% contained.

“While we have been able to get the resources that we need, we also know that there is a finite number in the system available,” Krake said. “And there is no end in sight for the extreme fire weather and conditions on the Bootleg fire.”

In addition to the Bootleg and Elbow Creek fires, firefighters in Oregon are battling two other large, uncontained fires.

The Jack fire has consumed 15,248 acres in the Umpqua National Forest and is 27% contained. The Grandview fire northeast of Sisters, meanwhile, has reached 5,971 acres and is 14% contained.

“I hope it’s an out of the blue, bad year,” Flory said. “But I will tell you that the Forest Service is planning for the possibility of this being the new normal.”https://829b67f801f5c02e3e645e97aceda9bc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

— Jack Forrest

jforrest@oregonian.com; 541-222-9808; @Jackmandu55

At least 70 large wildfires burning in US west as fears mount over conditions

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/17/us-west-wildfires-bootleg-fire-oregon

Bootleg is now the largest US forest fire at 281,208 acres and just 22% contained as ‘excessive heat’ forecast

Flames and smoke rise from the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon on 14 July.
Flames and smoke rise from the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon on 14 July. Photograph: John Hendricks/AP

Victoria BekiempisSat 17 Jul 2021 15.41 EDT

At least 70 large wildfires are burning across the US west and nearby states – engulfing more than 1m acres in flames – as fears mount that shifting conditions can worsen an already dire situation. Significant areas of these states are in the grips of drought conditions that are considered “extreme” and “exceptional” – the most severe categories.Heat exhaustion, apocalyptic scenes: what it’s like fighting the US’s biggest wildfireRead more

Authorities in Oregon have said that these arid, windy and unstable conditions will continue fueling the 281,208-acre Bootleg fire, which is just 22% contained, according to National Interagency Fire Center and InciWeb. The smoke and heat have spurred giant “fire clouds”, which are dangerous columns of ash and smoke that can spiral up to six miles skyward.

At least 2,106 firefighting personnel are battling Bootleg, which is now the largest US forest fire. Officials have also worried that this inferno might merge with the nearby Log fire, which totals at least 4,830 acres.

Ash and burnt trees after the Bootleg fire burned through in Beatty, Oregon, on 16 July.
Ash and burnt trees after the Bootleg fire burned through in Beatty, Oregon, on 16 July. Photograph: Payton Bruni/AFP/Getty Images

Meteorologists also detected a larger, more extreme type of fire clouds earlier this week – ones that can make their own weather, such as “fire tornadoes”. This extreme fire behavior is expected to worsen over the course of this weekend.

“Fire remains very active with significant acreage increases due to hot, dry and breezy conditions, and plume-dominated fire behavior. Poor humidity recovery at night is contributing to active fire spread through the night time period,” InciWeb said of Bootleg. “Robust spread rates are being generated by drought-affected fuels. Expecting similar conditions for the next several days.”

“This fire is large and moving so fast, every day it progresses four to five miles,” Bootleg’s incident commander, Joe Hassel, said. “One of the many challenges that our firefighters face every day is working in new country that can present new hazards all the time.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) has forecast “excessive heat” throughout the northern plains and intermountain west states, with temperatures soaring “well above average” over the next several days. The NWS said that triple-digit highs can be expected through eastern Montana and lower elevations of the intermountain west.

“This heat wave will exacerbate the severe to exceptional drought currently found across the region, which in combination can make for an environment ripe for wildfires to spread uncontrollably,” the NWS said.

The service also warned that “dry lightning could be a concern” for portions of northern and central California on Sunday. While monsoonal moisture is entering from the south, very little rain will be produced.

Residents of the northern California municipality of Paradise, which was mostly razed during a 2018 wildfire that left 85 dead, are on alert because of a fire which is some 15 miles north-east of the town.

The extremely hot, dry conditions fanning these fires are linked to human-caused climate change. The US west has grown much drier and warmer over the past three decades and is expected to grow more extreme which, in turn, is poised to create more frequent and destructive wildfires.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there have been 34,596 wildfires tallied from 1 January to 16 July, affecting 2,364,643 acres. Over the same period of 2020, there were 28,423 wildfires affecting 1,778,583 acres.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

How climate change and fires are shaping the forests of the future

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-07/tuom-hcc071421.php

NEWS RELEASE 14-JUL-2021

Tracking future forest fires with AI

TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF MUNICH (TUM)

Research NewsSHARE PRINT E-MAIL

IMAGE
IMAGE: THE ICONIC LANDSCAPE OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK IS CHARACTERIZED BY VAST FORESTS THAT HAVE BEEN UNTOUCHED BY MAN BUT ARE THREATENED BY INCREASING NUMBERS OF FOREST FIRES DUE TO CLIMATE… view more CREDIT: R. SEIDL / TUM

Forest fires are already a global threat. “But considering how climate change is progressing, we are probably only at the beginning of a future that will see more and bigger forest fires,” explains Rupert Seidl, Professor of Ecosystem Dynamics and Forest Management in Mountain Landscapes at TUM.

In many places, fire is part of the natural environment, and many tree species have become naturally adapted to recurrent fires. These adaptations range from particularly thick bark, which protects the sensitive cambium in the trunk from the fire, to the cones of certain types of pine, which open only due to the heat of fire, allowing a quick regeneration and recovery of affected woodland .AI is accelerating ecosystem models

“The interaction between climate, forest fires, and other processes in the forest ecosystem is very complex, and sophisticated process-based simulation models are required to take account of the different interactions appropriately,” explains Prof. Seidl. A method that has been developed at TUM is using artificial intelligence to significantly expand the field of use of these complex models.

This method involves the training of a deep neural network in order to imitate the behavior of a complex simulation model as effectively as possible. The neural network learns on the basis of how the ecosystem responds to differing environmental influences, but does so using only a fraction of the computing power that would otherwise be necessary for large-scale simulation models. “This allows us to carry out spatially high-resolution simulations of areas of forest that stretch across several million hectares,” explains scientist Dr. Werner Rammer.Forecast for the forests in Yellowstone National Park

The simulations completed by the team of scientists include simulations for the “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem”, which has the world-famous Yellowstone National Park at its heart. This area, which is approximately 8 million hectares in size, is situated in the Rocky Mountains and is largely untouched. The researchers at the TUM have worked with American colleagues to determine how different climate scenarios could affect the frequency of forest fires in this region in the 21st century, and which areas of forest cannot regenerate successfully following a forest fire.

Depending on the climate change scenario, the study has found that by the end of the century, the current forest coverage will have disappeared in 28 to 59 percent of the region. Particularly affected were the forests in the sub-alpine zone near the tree line, where the species of tree are naturally less adapted to fire, and the areas on the Yellowstone Plateau, where the relatively flat topography is mostly unable to stop the fire from spreading.Climate change is causing significant changes to forest ecosystems

The regeneration of the forest in the region under investigation is at threat for several reasons: If the fires get bigger and the distances between the surviving trees also increase, too few seeds will make their way onto the ground. If the climate gets hotter and drier in the future, the vulnerable young trees won’t survive, and if there are too many fires, the trees won’t reach the age at which they themselves yield seeds.

“By 2100, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is expected to have changed more than it has in the last 10,000 years, and will therefore look significantly different than it does today,” explains Rammer. “The loss of today’s forest vegetation is leading to a reduction in the carbon which is stored in the ecosystem, and will also have a profound impact on the biodiversity and recreational value of this iconic landscape.”

The potential developmental trends identified in the study are also intended to help visitors to the national park understand the consequences of climate change and the urgency of the climate protection measures. In the next step, the research team will be using AI to estimate the long-term impact of the problems caused by climate change in the forests of Europe.

###

Western wildfires have burned an area almost 5 times the size of NYC. Here are some notable fires

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/12/weather/wildfires-california-oregon-arizona-new-mexico/index.html

By Stella Chan, CNN

Updated 5:56 PM ET, Tue July 13, 2021The Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, burns in Doyle, California, on July 9.The Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, burns in Doyle, California, on July 9.

(CNN)The National Interagency Fire Center says 67 large fires have burned more than 917,000 acres across 12 states.The acreage — about 1,434 square miles — is comparable to 4.75 times the area of New York City.From January 1 to July 13 this year, more than 2 million acres have burned in 33,953 fires, according to the NIFC, surpassing the previous year’s tally for the same period.

Fires in California have charred tens of thousands of acres, more than doubling the amount burned for the same time frame last year.

These are the hotshot firefighters leading attacks against California wildfires. And they're quitting

These are the hotshot firefighters leading attacks against California wildfires. And they’re quittingAccording to updated data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) on Monday, more than 103,000 more acres have burned this year through July 11 compared with the same period in 2020. And there have been 4,991 fires, up nearly 700 from a year ago.

“While wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape, the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year,” Cal Fire’s website says.

The West is caught in a vicious climate change feedback loop

The West is caught in a vicious climate change feedback loopClimate change is considered a key driver of this trend. Warmer spring and summer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier spring snowmelt create longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire.

“The length of the fire season is estimated to have increased 75 days across the Sierras and seems to correspond with an increase in the extent of forest fires across the state.”Enter your email to sign up for the Wonder Theory newsletter.close dialog

Want to stay updated on the latest space and science news?We’ve got you.Sign Me UpBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.Below is a roundup of some key fires:

California

Beckwourth Complex Fire: 92,988 acres, 46% containedThe complex comprises the Dotta Fire and Sugar Fire burning in the Plumas National Forest.The Dotta Fire started June 30 on the Beckwourth Ranger District near Dotta Canyon.The Sugar Fire started July 2 on the Beckwourth Ranger District west of Sugarloaf Peak.Both fires were ignited by lightning.This is the largest fire burning in the state, and it is not clear how many structures or homes have burned, if any.Evacuations impacted 3,061 people and 1,199 residences are threatened, according to fire information spokesperson Mike Ferris. A total of 2,745 personnel are battling the fire complex.An air tanker drops retardant to keep the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, from reaching the Beckwourth community of unincorporated Plumas County, California, on Friday, July 9, 2021. An air tanker drops retardant to keep the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, from reaching the Beckwourth community of unincorporated Plumas County, California, on Friday, July 9, 2021.

'We have to act and act fast:' Biden says climate change is driving wildfires and historic heat wave

‘We have to act and act fast:’ Biden says climate change is driving wildfires and historic heat waveRiver Fire: 9,500 acres, 15% containedThe River fire is burning near Yosemite National Park west of Highway 41 in Mariposa and Madera counties. The fire started July 11.Mandatory evacuations are in place in parts of both counties and at least 1,200 fire personnel are battling the blaze.”Firefighters continue to aggressively attack the fire while dangerous heat persists. Low humidity, tree torching, wind driven runs and frequent spot fires continue to challenge firefighters,” Cal Fire said on the incident page.More California fires on the radarJuniper Fire: 1,011 acres, 100% contained in the Modoc National Forest. Started July 5.Lava Fire: 26,203 acres, 77% contained, Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Started by lightning near Weed, California, on June 24.Salt Fire: 12,650 acres, 90% contained; Shasta-Trinity National Forest. No growth over the weekend. Started June 30.The Tennant and Willow fires were brought under full containment as of Monday night after burning more than 13,000 acres combined.

Arizona

Cedar Basin Fire: 734 acres, 75% containedThe fire was started July 9 by lightning about 14 miles northeast of Wikieup, Arizona, and 20 miles northwest of Bagdad, Arizona.

New Mexico

Johnson Fire: 88,918 acres, 75% containedThe Johnson Fire started May 20 and was caused by lightning, according to incident reports from the Gia National Forest.

Oregon

Bootleg Fire: 201,923 acres, 0% containedThe fire started July 6 on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Klamath County.The cause is still under investigation.The Bootleg Fire started July 6 on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Klamath County.The Bootleg Fire started July 6 on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Klamath County.Officials estimate full containment of the fire near the California border by November 30.Hot, dry, windy weather is hampering firefighting efforts, creating life-threatening risk to area residents, according to an incident update.The fire prompted a flex alert from the California Independent System Operator for Monday. A flex alert is a request for users to conserve electricity when there is an anticipated shortage of energy supply.Grandview Fire: 5,723 acres, 5% containedThe Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office ordered residents to evacuate all homes north of Holmes Road because of the fire burning near Bend on Monday night.”This is a Level 3 (Go Now!) Evacuation Notice for all homes north of Holmes Road due to a wildfire. There is immediate and imminent danger and you should evacuate immediately. Leave immediately and as quickly as possible,” the sheriff’s office said in a post on Twitter.

The fire is burning on private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Crooked River National Grassland managed by the US Forest Service, according to the Grandview Fire update post.Deschutes County is more than 180 miles south of Portland.