Category Archives: Forest Fires

Forest Fires

Separate wildfires prompt evacuation alert, highway closure in northern Alberta

The Edmonton Journal
April 21, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada

ALBERTA — Residents of Saprae Creek east of Fort McMurray have been put on an evacuation alert late Sunday due to a wildfire spreading toward the community. …An alert is a warning, and not the same as an evacuation order that requires residents to leave. In a separate developing situation, a forest fire on the southern edge of Lesser Slave Lake has forced the closure of a section of the Queen Elizabeth II Highway. In a Sunday afternoon news release, Slave Lake RCMP described the fire as “rapidly progressing” near the hamlet of Canyon Creek. As of 4:30 p.m., the highway was closed between Seppola Drive and Centre Avenue, just east of the hamlet, though further sections could be shut down later depending on the fire, RCMP said. Other portions of the highway in the area have poor visibility due to smoke.

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After an epic year of wildfires, Canada’s air isn’t as clean as it used to be

By Anand Ram
CBC News
March 18, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada

Canada’s record-setting wildfire season hiked the country up global pollution rankings — and for the first time made its air quality worse than the U.S., according to a new report by air quality technology company IQAir. “In previous years, Canada had the cleanest air quality in all of North America,” said Glory Dolphin Hammes, CEO of IQAir’s North American division. “This year we saw just the exact opposite. Our top 13 most polluted cities [in North America] are actually in Canada.” Fort McMurray and Peace River in Alberta, along with Yellowknife, took the top three regional spots. As the climate warms, priming conditions for longer and more intense wildfire seasons, experts say protecting our air quality will be critical to our health and development. …Canada ranked 93rd, with an annual average PM2.5 concentration of 10.3 micrograms per cubic metre of air (μg/m³) — considered two to three times beyond the WHO’s recommended level.

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As ‘Zombie Fires’ Smolder, Canada Braces for Another Season of Flames

By Ian Austen
New York Times
March 4, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada

Canada’s emergency preparedness minister is warning that this year’s wildfire season will be worse than the record-breaking season of 2023, when thousands of fires burned tens of millions of acres and set off massive plumes of smoke that enveloped major U.S. cities, including New York and Washington. This year’s fires could be especially bad in two of the country’s most fire-prone provinces, where nearly 150 of the blazes that started during last year’s season are still burning this winter, under snow-covered ground. While so-called “zombie fires,” a term recently popularized in the Canadian media, are an annual phenomenon in parts of the country, never have so many fires been reported in a single winter, raising fears that many of them may flare up again above ground. The “zombie fires” persist during winter because porous peat and moss ground cover in northern areas act as underground fuel for them.

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Wildfire evacuation notice issued for major Canada oil town Fort McMurray

Reuters
May 12, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

An evacuation alert has been issued for Fort McMurray, Alberta, as an out-of-control fire rages southwest of town, making it among the first actions ahead of the wildfire season. In a notice late on Friday, the Alberta government said the wildfire danger is “extreme” in the Fort McMurray Forest Area and out of control at 1,000 hectares in size. It said strong winds are expected on Saturday, as a cold front continues to pass over the region. Helicopter pilots using night vision equipment surveilled the wildfire area overnight. …Residents in Saprea Creek Estates are also placed on alert from the municipality of Wood Buffalo. In British Columbia, the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality issued an evacuation order for the town of Fort Nelson. The federal government has warned Canada faces another “catastrophic” wildfire season with higher-than-normal spring and summer temperatures across much of the country, boosted by El Nino weather conditions.

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Massive out-of-control wildfire near Flin Flon moves toward Cranberry Portage, forces evacuations

By Rachel Ferstl
CBC News
May 12, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

A massive wildfire in Manitoba, 38 kilometres long and 12 kilometres wide, has swallowed up thousands of hectares of land near Flin Flon, and is making its way toward Cranberry Portage, the province said in its fourth fire bulletin on Sunday afternoon. Residents from Cranberry Portage evacuated to The Pas after an order was issued Saturday night. The blaze was first detected on Thursday and is deemed out-of-control on the province’s wildfire map. It has grown to about 35,000 hectares thanks to high winds and drought conditions, up from the about 3,000 hectares reported as of Saturday afternoon. …Another out-of-control fire near the community of Wanless, which is north of The Pas but south of Cranberry Portage, has grown to about 1,500 hectares in size since it was first detected on Thursday. Crews are trying to protect the hydro line between the latter two communities. Both fires started due to natural causes.

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Recap: Wildfire Resilience and Awareness Week

Tree Frog Forestry News
April 26, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

On April 1 of this month, the Western Canada SFI Implementation Committee and the Tree Frog News launched the second annual Wildfire Resilience and Awareness Week. If you missed it, we’re happy to share a recap of the articles we featured. Thanks to all who participated! 

Working to improve the accuracy of fuel typing in Canada
By Kate Bezooyen, MSc (Candidate), FIT; Gregory Greene, PhD; John Davies, RPF
Forsite Consultants Ltd.

Helping Students Understand the Nature of Fire
Project Learning Tree Canada

Coastal Fire Centre prevention plan under development for 2024 wildfire season
By Rebecca Grogan, Communications Assistant
Coastal Fire Centre

Private Land Burning – A Message to Landowners and the Province
By Bruce Blackwell M.Sc. RPF RPBio.
B.A. Blackwell and Associates Ltd.

A Look Into Fire Mitigation Best Practices And Research In BC
By Heidi Walsh, RPF
DRS Phoenix Connect

New centre at UBC to advance wildfire research, collaboration and innovation
By Lori Daniels, Koerner Chair in Wildfire Coexistence
UBC Faculty of Forestry

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‘Tactical evacuation’ underway near Chetwynd, B.C., due to out-of-control wildfire

By Kaija Jussinoja
CTV News
April 25, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Police and firefighters are going door-to-door telling people who live in the vicinity of a wildfire burning out of control near Chetwynd they need to evacuate. In a social media post Wednesday evening, the BC Wildfire Service says local RCMP and the Chetwynd Fire Department are doing a “tactical evacuation” near the fire, which was discovered around 3:45 p.m. In just a few hours, the fire has grown to 40 hectares in size, according to the agency. A 10-kilometre stretch of Highway 97 has also been shut down in both directions due to the wildfire. Drive BC says the closures start four kilometres away from Chetwynd—a town in B.C.’s northeast roughly 300 kilometres north of Prince George—and end 14 kilometres away.

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‘Trees going up like Roman candles’ as fire season starts early in B.C., Alberta

The Canadian Press in the Victoria Times Colonist
April 22, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

CARIBOO, B.C. — Susanne Langan first noticed the Burgess Creek wildfire from her home in British Columbia’s Cariboo region on Saturday afternoon as a distant, thin column of smoke. But as winds picked up that night, the flames became more aggressive. “I could see lots of trees going up like Roman candles,” said Langan, who works as an equipment operator at Mount Polley Mine, about 50 kilometres north of Williams Lake. …In addition to the 1,600-hectare Burgess Creek fire about 600 kilometres north of Vancouver, the tiny town of Endako, a further 400 kilometres northwest, is also under an evacuation alert, threatened by a blaze that the BC Wildfire Service said on Sunday was less than a kilometre west of the town. …an evacuation alert for Endako was issued Sunday after 60 km/h winds began pushing the flames toward the community of a few dozen homes that sit on the north side of Highway 16.

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Evacuation ordered for part of Cold Lake First Nations, other wildfire alerts lifted in northern Alberta

By Wallis Snowdon
CBC News
April 22, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Some residents of Cold Lake-area First Nations have been told they need to evacuate the area immediately as flames approach, while people living in a hamlet near Fort McMurray have had the evacuation alert for their community cancelled. An emergency alert was issued just before 5 p.m. for First Nation of Cold Lake #149 (Legoff) due to a wildfire nearby. Residents have been told to go to the community hall and to look for updates on social media. The alert states the wildfire is burning in the area between Range Road 430 and Range Road 434. Meanwhile, near Slave Lake, a wildfire fire in the area of Canyon Creek triggered a temporary closure of Highway 2 on Sunday afternoon. For several hours, sections of the highway near the fire were experiencing poor visibility due to the smoke. The highway has since reopened.

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Wildfire between Williams Lake, Quesnel grows to 1,600 hectares

By Angie Mindus
Terrace Standard
April 21, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The 2024 fire season got off to an explosive start in the Cariboo Fire Centre on April 20 with multiple fires breaking out around the region. Challenged by dry, windy conditions, the BC Wildfire Service responded to several wildfires, including the largest and most visible fire, the Burgess Creek wildfire, located between Williams Lake and Quesnel. …the Burgess Creek wildfire was discovered at approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday, and grew to 50 hectares by evening. In the Sunday morning update, the fire is now estimated to be 1,600 hectares. …The Burgess Creek wildfire remains out of control, and has prompted a continued full response from the BCWS on site including crews, air support and heavy equipment. Smoke from the fire is highly visible… There are no structures in the area of the fire, which has been classified as suspected to be human caused. …the fire appears to be location within several logging blocks.

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Southern Vancouver Island has 1st official 2024 wildfire near Shawnigan Lake

By Mark Page
North Island Gazette
April 11, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fire season is underway. Southern Vancouver Island’s had its first officially reported wildfire on April 5 — though the small human-caused spot fire near Shawnigan Lake was quickly dealt with. “We had dispatched a response officer who attended and determined that our crews were not required, as the fire was quickly brought under control by people on site who had remained on site until the fire was extinguished,” said Rebecca Grogan, a fire information officer for BC Wildfire Service. The fire grew to about two metres by five metres before it was put out, Grogan added. It was about 1.5 kilometres east of Shawnigan Lake in the Strathcona Heights area, which put it in the Shawnigan Lake Fire Department’s jurisdiction. BC Wildfire had responded before they had accurate coordinates for the fire.

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Alberta wildfire season is off to a blazing start, 57 fires burning

The Weather Network in Yahoo! News
April 1, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

With the 2024 wildfire season heavily looming over the backs of Canadians after last year’s historic wildfire season, none will be feeling the pressure more than Western Canada. Widespread drought, low snow-pack levels, and warm temperatures have many people fearing for what this season will bring. Alberta’s wildfire season typically runs from March 1 to Oct. 31, but on Feb. 20, Alberta’s forestry minister declared an early start to the season, allowing for the province to expand their wildland firefighter numbers and proactively prepare for what’s to come. Now, over a full month into the wildfire season, Alberta is battling 57 active wildfires, 50 of which are fires still burning deep in the ground from 2023.

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Out-of-control wildfire south of Chetwynd, BC

CKPG News Prince George
April 1, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

CHETWYND — The BC Wildfire Service is busy battling a 5.2 hectare blaze south of Chetwynd. The fire was discovered on March 31 and is now classified as out-of-control. An out-of-control wildfire is a wildfire that is continuing to spread and is not responding to suppression efforts. The blaze is approximately 7 kilometres from the Sukunka River Forest Service Road in the Dawson Creek Fire Zone. BC Wildfire Service is responding to the wildfire with seven firefighters, a water tender, and a dozer. An official cause has not been released. There are currently 100 active wildfires burning across British Columbia.

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Okanagan Forest Task Force put out 300 abandoned fires in 2023 between May and October

By Madison Reeve
Castanet
March 24, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Okanagan Forest Task Force was formed in 2016 with the goal of cleaning up the Okanagan’s backcountry. Since the group’s formation, millions of pounds of illegally dumped garbage have been cleaned up by the task force. Founder Kane Blake says the volunteers do more than just collect garbage. On Friday, Blake shared alarming statistics of how many abandoned fires the team put out during May to October of 2023. “We put out roughly 300 abandoned fires between Kelowna and Lake Country. They just get left unattended or they are done for the night and feel it’s just okay to leave,” Blake said. He says roughly 30 to 40 of the fires were put out during strict fire bans. “Five of the fires had already started to catch brush and/or trees in the area on fire,” Blake added. The volunteer group saved one life during a vehicle fire which the team put out.

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Wildfire near Chetwynd “being held”

By Shailynn Foster
Energetic City
February 27, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

CHETWYND, B.C. — The wildfire that sparked near Chetwynd on February 23rd is now listed as “being held” by the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS). Located 15 kilometres on the Hasler Creek Forest Service Road, the wildfire is now being held at eight hectares. According to the BCWS, the fire remained out of control until Monday morning, when it was re-classified. …The BCWS says weather conditions such as precipitation and low temperatures like the region has experienced recently reduce fire behaviour and facilitate suppression.

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‘Holdover wildfires’ from 2023 producing visible smoke again, says B.C. Wildfire Service

CBC News
February 8, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Wildfires that went dormant over the winter have once again moved above ground, producing visible smoke and smouldering, the B.C. Wildfire Service says. The service says these “holdover fires” are primarily in the Prince George Fire Centre, which covers the northeastern quadrant of the province, and are being aided by ongoing drought conditions in the region. “A holdover fire is a fire that remains dormant and/or undetected for a considerable time after it starts,” the service said in a bulletin, adding they are particularly common for lightning-caused fires or fires of “considerable size.” It is not uncommon for holdover wildfires to be reported, though in past years notices about their reappearance generally come later in the year, around March or April.

 

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Ten forest fires in Northeastern Ontario since start of the season – but they’re all out

By Bob McIntyre
My North Bay Now
April 23, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada East

Wildland fire season is already in full swing in British Columbia and Alberta, but so far, so good in Northeastern Ontario. Natural Resources and Forestry Ministry fire information officer Evan Lizotte says there have been ten fires this season, but they’re all out. “The hazard is currently low in the Northeast Region,” he adds, “with a small patch of moderate hazard in the Sudbury area.” Precipitation during the week is expected to keep the fire hazard low to moderate. “There will be some sunny but cool days later this week, which will be flowed by rain over the weekend,” Lizotte says, “so the hazard will most likely not bounce back this week.” He reminds us that outdoor burning is only allowed between two hours before sunset and two hours after sunrise, and never in windy conditions.

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Forest fire in Oka park likely caused by discarded cigarette

Canadian Press in CBC News
April 1, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada East

A small forest fire has been extinguished in a provincial park west of Montreal, signalling an early start to the 2024 wildfire season. A spokesperson for Quebec’s forest fire prevention society, known as SOPFEU, said the fire that broke out Saturday in Oka park was likely caused by a discarded cigarette. Stéphane Caron said the 2.1-hectare blaze was put out by local fire departments, with firefighters from SOPFEU arriving Sunday morning to extinguish the remaining smoky spots. Caron said the forest fire season normally gets underway in mid-April but is starting a little earlier than usual due to a less snowy winter.

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Oregon Department of Forestry sending 16-member strike team to Texas to help fight their major wildfires

KTVZ Central Oregon
March 1, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Forestry deployed a strike team to Amarillo, Texas on Friday to assist in their wildfire suppression efforts. The strike team is equipped with five engines and a strike team leader, with a total of 16 firefighters traveling down to the state. The firefighters are going to Texas under mutual assistance agreements, making it easier to share resources. When wildfire activity is low in Oregon, firefighters can be spared to help in other places experiencing high levels of wildfire response.  …“We’re ready and willing to help, whenever we receive the call from one of our partner states,” said Chris Cline, ODF’s Interim Fire Protection Division chief.  “It’s the right thing to respond when someone is in a time of need, and we are honored to have the opportunity to serve.”

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Wildfire grows into 2nd-largest in Texas history and briefly shuts down nuclear weapons facility

By Jim Vertuno
The Associated Press
February 28, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States

A fast-moving wildfire burning through the Texas Panhandle grew into the second-largest blaze in state history Wednesday, forcing evacuations and triggering power outages as firefighters struggled to contain the widening flames. The sprawling blaze was part of a cluster of fires that burned out of control and threatened rural towns, where local officials spent the night shutting down roads and urging residents to leave their homes. The largest of the fires — which grew to nearly 800 square miles — jumped into parts of neighboring Oklahoma and remained completely uncontained as dawn broke, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. Authorities have not said what ignited the fires, but strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm temperatures have fed the blazes. Near Borger, a community of about 13,000 people, emergency officials at one point late Tuesday answered questions from panicked residents.

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Forestry Division battles 250-acre wildfire in Arkansas amid heightened statewide risk

By Andrew Mobley
KATV
February 27, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division says the risk for wildfires has elevated across the state, with over half of Arkansas’ counties designated high risk. The Forestry Division says there have been over 100 active fires in the last week, impacting every county in the state and increasing exponentially. “Conditions are dry with low humidity statewide, and we are forecasted to experience periods of high winds in the coming days.” said State Forester Kyle Cunningham. “We are seeing an increase in the number of wildfires and their intensity, and that’s a trend that will continue until we see significant rainfall. With this in mind, we are asking citizens of the state to be mindful of this risk and avoid burning.” On yesterday, 58 fires were reported statewide in a sudden increase of activity in Arkansas. 

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Northeast Wyoming Already Blowing Up As Wildfire Hot-Spot

By Mark Heinz
Cowboy State Daily
March 25, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

Most of Wyoming appears to be relatively safe from massive wildfires — at least through June — but the northeastern corner of the state is already in trouble. “We’ve already burned more acres so far this year then we did all of last year,” said Charles Harrison, fire warden for the Crook County Volunteer Fire Department. And it hasn’t been just prairie grass fires. There’s already been two roughly 200-acre forest fires in the county, one near New Haven, and another near Moorcroft, he told Cowboy State Daily. …There’s no shortage of potential fuel for forests fires. There are vast swaths of beetle-killed timber, either standing or already down on the ground. …“There’s acres and acres of standing dead trees,” spokesman Evan Guzik said.

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Pinelands wildfire reached more than 500 acres before being contained

By Frank Kummer
The Philadelphia Inquirer
April 25, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

A wildfire in the Pinelands reached 510 acres Wednesday before crews were able to fully contain it overnight, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Forest Fire Service officials notified the public at 8 a.m. Thursday that the blaze, which has been dubbed the County Line Wildfire, had been 100% contained off Jackson Road in Wharton State Forest, the largest state forest and within the Pinelands National Reserve. The fire burned in both Waterford Township, Camden County, and Shamong Township, Burlington County. No one was injured, and the cause remains under investigation. Forest Fire Service staff was still on the scene as of Thursday morning and will continue to monitor “areas of concern” until there is significant rain. Officials say smoke may be visible for a while, and motorists should be aware of the hazard.

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Wildfire in New Jersey consumes more than 400 acres of land

By Jim Murdoch and Matt Trapani
News 12 New Jersey
April 24, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

New Jersey’s first major wildfire of the year broke out Wednesday morning in Wharton State Forest in the Waterford section of Camden County. Dozens of firefighters came to the scene to keep the fire from spreading further. As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said the fire consumed around 400 acres of land and is about 75% contained. The fire was first spotted around 9 a.m. and called into the Forest Fire Service. “When we arrived on location, the fire was approximately 50 acres in size as units arrived on location. The fire was burning low ground and was hung up for the most part but there were still active parts of the fire,” said Jay Wyatt, a section forest fire warden for the NJFFS. Despite recent rains this month, the area has been dry for several days, with low humidity and gusty winds, creating conditions that allow the spread of wildfires.

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Leicester wildfire: Crews contain 70-acre fire March 31; cause under investigation

By Ryley Ober
Asheville Citizen Times
April 1, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — After spotting smoke billowing up from a mountain in Leicester, firefighters battled a 70-acre wildfire March 31, the source of which is still under investigation. Firefighters with the Leicester Volunteer Fire Department saw the smoke from the station before any 911 calls came in, and they went out to investigate around 1 p.m., according to Interim Deputy Fire Chief Roger Banks. About 70 crew members from the volunteer department, in addition to firefighters from nine other departments in Buncombe and Haywood counties, helped suppress the fire. “We know about where it started, but we don’t know what started it,” Banks said. The interim deputy said they don’t usually investigate wildfires, but the N.C. Forest Service is looking into the cause of the wildfire.

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Forest fires contained but conditions remain high for fire risk

By Chris Lawrence
MetroNews West Virginia
March 25, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

MOOREFIELD, West Virginia — Forest fires in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands Region last week scorched 5,750 acres according to West Virginia Division of Forestry Director Jeremy Jones. …The first fires were reported Wednesday as conditions became dry with low humidity. Strong winds picked up to 50 miles and hour and more which fueled the fires faster than fire fighters could keep up. A number of homes and buildings wound up being destroyed. …The West Virginia State Fire Marshal continued to evaluate the damages to structures from the forest fires. Ultimately rainfall Friday night into Saturday helped the crews get full containment, but Jones said the work of a pair of Blackhawk helicopters from the West Virginia National Guard were very extremely valuable and gave fire crews a strong leg up on the out of control blazes.

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Crews battle scores of wildfires in Virginia, including a blaze in Shenandoah National Park

Associated Press
March 21, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

LURAY, Va. — Crews were battling scores of wildfires around Virginia on Thursday, including a fire affecting hundreds of acres at Shenandoah National Park, amid an elevated fire risk. More than 100 new fires popped up Wednesday amid gusty winds and low relative humidity, affecting more than 2 1/2 square miles across the state, many of them in the central part of the state, Virginia Department of Forestry spokesperson Cory Swift said. Shenandoah County officials announced Thursday that five homes were lost due to a fire northwest of Strasburg… Residents of homes that were not affected who evacuated may return, officials said in a news release. That fire and another large fire near Basye have been contained, and there are no known fatalities, officials said. At least 16 fires were contained and hundreds of firefighters worked overnight to contain the others, Swift said. Amid high winds, officials were seeing some downed powerlines causing fires, he said.

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Several West Virginia counties in State of Emergency for forest fires

By Sam Kirk
12WBOY News
March 21, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Grant, Hampshire, Hardy and Pendleton counties have been placed under a State of Emergency due to “extensive forest fires,” Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday afternoon. Multiple large fires are burning across those counties, including one at Waites Run near Wardensville that has destroyed “countless” structures, according to fire departments. The Fire Information for Rescue Management System map says that the Waites Run fire has burned more than 3,500 acres, which is nearly 5.5 square miles. Departments from multiple states, including Virginia and Maryland, and from West Virginia counties as far away as Monongalia and Braxton have responded to help fight the series of fires. Another large fire in Grant County has burned more than 500 acres as of Thursday morning.

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Long-term forecast predicts increased forest fire activity in Oregon and Washington’s dampest areas

By Brian Bull
KLCC Public Radio
March 4, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

Alex Dye

Hotter and more intense fires are likely coming to the Pacific Northwest’s cooler and wetter forests. That’s from new research led by an Oregon State University scientist. Comprehensive wildfire simulations for over a 23-million acre stretch of forest show that for a 30-year period beginning in 2035, Oregon’s western Cascades and Washington’s north Cascades – as well as the Puget Lowlands and Olympic Mountains – could see at least twice as much fire activity as seen in the last 30 years. “It’s time to start thinking about things that could counteract those climate effects,” said Alex Dye. He’s a research associate with OSU’s College of Forestry, and the lead author on the study published in the latest edition of JGR Biogeosciences. …Dye said that it can be challenging to assess fire probability in an environment where there isn’t much empirical information about the fire history to build models.

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Texas Panhandle wildfires have burned nearly 1.3 million acres in a week – and it’s not over yet

By Li Cohen
CBS News
March 4, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

The Texas Panhandle wildfires killed at least two people and burned nearly 1.3 million acres in their first week — and the situation isn’t over. There are five active wildfires across the region, according to Texas A&M Forest Service. The largest of those is the Smokehouse Creek Fire in Hutchinson County, which alone has burned nearly 1.1 million acres and is the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state. That fire was just 15% contained as of Sunday afternoon. …Weather conditions across the state have made battling the blazes difficult. For days, the area has seen favorable fire weather – warmer temperatures, dry air and strong winds – but the National Weather Service said Monday morning a cold front is set to pass through, bringing cooler temperatures that will help minimize wildfire impact.

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Texas battles second-biggest wildfire in US history

By Phil McCausland & Chloe Kim
BBC News
March 1, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

A rapidly spreading Texas wildfire has killed one person, forced residents to evacuate, cut off power to homes and businesses, and briefly paused operations at a nuclear facility. It has burned 1.1 million acres north of the city of Amarillo – making it the second-largest fire in US history. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties. Dry grass, high temperatures and strong winds have fuelled the blaze, which remains 3% contained. The Smokehouse Creek Fire, as it has been named, has already razed 1.1 million acres – larger than the state of Rhode Island. The West Odessa Fire Department said on Facebook that it “is now both the largest and most destructive fire in Texas History”, surpassing the East Amarillo Complex fire, which burned over 900,000 acres in 2006.

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Massive wildfires burning in Texas Panhandle force evacuations, prompt disaster declaration

By S.E. Jenkins
CBS News
February 28, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US East

NORTH TEXAS – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Tuesday due to widespread wildfires in the Panhandle amid hot and dry conditions. Dry vegetation and high winds were fueling the rapid growth of blazes. Abbott’s declaration includes 60 counties. Pantex, the main facility that assembles and disassembles America’s nuclear arsenal, shut down its operations Tuesday night because of nearby wildfires. But the plant’s operators said overnight on X, that it is “open for normal day shift operations for Wednesday, February 28.” The plant is located some 30 miles east of Amarillo. …The largest fire is the Smokehouse Creek fire in Hutchinson County, northeast of Amarillo. It is an estimated 500,000 acres and is 0% contained. The Amarillo Area Office of Emergency Management said late Tuesday night that “Randall County, Potter County, and City of Amarillo, Texas have declared a local state of disaster. …The Texas A&M Forest Service is bracing for more wildfire activity in the coming weeks.  

Additional coverage in the Dallas Morning News: Wildfire triggers evacuation for multiple parts of Texas Panhandle, forest service says

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Wildfire Rages In Eastern Spain As Temperatures Rise

Agence France-Presse in Barron’s
April 15, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

A forest fire that started in abnormally hot temperatures has burned through through more than 500 hectares of land in eastern Spain and forced 180 people to flee their homes, officials said Monday. The fire began on Sunday near Tarbena in the Valencia region as temperatures reached 30 degrees Celcius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), which is unusually high for the season. Heat, wind and low humidity fuelled the blaze which media reports said may have started with an agricultural fire. …Eight air units battled the blaze alongside firefighters and troops from the UME military emergency unit which is called in to help with larger fires. According to the AEMET national weather service, temperatures rose above 30C in more than 65 areas across Spain on Saturday, including places as far north as the Pyrenees, Galicia and the Castilla y Leon region.

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The Arctic Is Burning – And It Is Changing The World – High North News

By Trine Jonassen
High North News
April 11, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

“Arctic wildland fire has gone from being an effect of global climate change to a driver of it”, says Edward Alexander, co-chair of the Gwich’in Council International – a non-profit organization that represents 9,000 Gwich’in people in Alaska, United States and the Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada. Alexander resides in Fairbanks just south of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, where wildfires is affecting both human and animal inhabitants. “I say I come from the future”, Alexander says. Meaning, a place where 65 percent of the land has burned. And it is heading south. Alexander highlighted the devastating consequences of Arctic wildfires during a panel discussion at the Arctic Encounter Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska this week.

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Wildfire rages on Greece’s Crete island, settlements evacuated

In-Cyprus
April 6, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

A wildfire raged out of control on the Greek island of Crete on Saturday, with authorities ordering the evacuation of four residential settlements, the fire department said. Fanned by strong winds, the blaze spread across the slopes of the mountainous forest east of the seaside town of Ierapetra. Authorities ordered the precautionary evacuation of the Achlia, Galini, Agia Fotia and Mavros Kolimpos settlements, home to around 300 people, as the blaze got close to some homes. About 120 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground, assisted by two helicopters. Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean nation during the summer months, but the government has said that extremely dry, windy and hot conditions that scientists link to climate change have made them worse in recent years.

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Forest fires burn in nearly half of Mexico’s drought-stricken states, fueled by strong winds

By Felix Marquez
The Associated Press
March 25, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

NOGALES, Mexico — Forest fires were burning in nearly half of Mexico’s drought-stricken states Monday fueled by strong winds. The National Forestry Commission reported 58 active fires in 15 states, including in protected nature reserves in Morelos, Veracruz and Mexico states. A preliminary estimate of the affected area reached more than 3,500 acres (1,421 hectares), the commission wrote. Authorities had reported no injuries, but at least some homes were burned at a wildfire in Nogales, Veracruz Monday. A fire burned across mountain farms, killing livestock and charring homes. At least five families were moved to a shelter. Firefighters battled with a water tanker while residents slapped at flames in their fields with branches. Alondra Chávez a Nogales resident was among those fighting the flames. “The wind is beating us and we do what we can,” Chávez said.

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Megafires and the forestry industry in Chile

By Rodrigo Barria
The Patagon Journal
February 5, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

For decades, severe and extensive forest fires have affected the central-southern zone of Chile with force and destruction. The fires have left not only deaths and serious environmental impacts in their wake, but severe social and economic consequences. Increasing in their intensity, forest fires not only reflect the effects of the climate crisis, but warn of other issues, such as urban expansion and land use changes. But now we have gone from seeing fires of varying scale and magnitude to a much more terrifying category: megafires. These are powerful massive fires that are extreme in their size and impact. And they are no longer rare. …What is happening that is causing these destructive fires to repeat with greater frequency …According to land use type, half of the area affected by large fires between 1985 and 2018 was covered by exotic species tree plantations utilizing pine and eucalyptus.

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Chile firefighters pull bodies from rubble as blaze death toll hits 122

By Alexander Villegas and Jorge Vega
Reuters
February 5, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

© REUTERS/ Sofia Yanjari

VINA DEL MAR, Chile – The death toll from wildfires raging across central Chile hit 122 on Monday as helicopters dumped tons of water on blazes and emergency crews told Reuters they were still finding bodies buried in the wreckage three days after the fires took hold. The toll from Chile’s worst natural disaster in years was expected to climb further as residents, firefighters and military raced to clear rubble in residential areas of the coastal cities of Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar where fireballs consumed houses within minutes. “It’s like a war zone, as if a bomb went off,” said Jacqueline Atenas, 63, who fled her home in nearby Villa Independencia on Friday. “It burned like someone was throwing gasoline on the houses. I don’t understand what happened… There was a lot of wind, a lot of wind and big balls of fire that would fly by.”

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At least 112 dead as authorities struggle to contain forest fires in Chile

The Guardian
February 4, 2024
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

CHILE — Firefighters are wrestling with huge forest fires that broke out in central Chile on Friday. …The fires have been burning with the highest intensity around the city of Viña del Mar, where a botanical garden founded in 1931 was destroyed by the flames. At least 1,600 people have been left without homes. Flames and smoke on the eastern edge of the city have trapped some people in their homes. Officials said 200 people have been reported missing in Viña del Mar and the surrounding area. The city of 300,000 people is a popular beach resort. Late on Sunday, Chile‘s forensic medicine service updated the confirmed death toll to 112 people. Drone footage filmed by Reuters in Vina del Mar area showed entire neighbourhoods scorched, with residents rummaging through husks of burnt-out houses where corrugated iron roofs have collapsed. On the streets, singed cars littered the roads.

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Northern Thailand chokes under severe smog as wildfires rage

By Nontarat Phaicharoen
Benar News
April 1, 2024
Category: Forest Fires

Massive wildfires raging across northern Thailand have created a severe smog crisis as air quality readings in Chiang Mai province exceeded hazardous levels for more than two consecutive weeks, officials warned Monday. Nearly 1,000 hotspots have been detected across the region by satellite monitoring while unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions fuel the uncontrolled blazes, which mostly started because of agricultural burning. “Choking smog clouds from the fires have enveloped multiple provinces, with Chiang Mai’s haze spreading to Lampang, Lamphun and beyond. The wildfires are forecast to continue raging for over 10 more days, exacerbating the region’s hazardous air pollution levels,” environmental scholar Jain Charnnarong told BenarNews.

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