Wildfires

Sawtooth National Fores

The West is experiencing record-breaking fires this year, and that’s affecting recreationists, including hunters.

 

 

J. N. Stuart / Flickr Creative Commons

Large numbers of migratory birds have reportedly dropped dead in New Mexico and Colorado.

There’s still confusion over the deaths, like how many died and what exactly killed them. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes the bird deaths in Colorado and New Mexico were caused by an unusual cold front.


Rachel Cohen/Boise State Public Radio

The Badger Fire south of Twin Falls now covers more than 40,000 acres and is 0% contained.

screenshot / via AirNow

 

For folks in the fire science world, the smoke that has engulfed most of the western United States is not surprising. As climate change, years of poor forest management and home development practices come to a head, this could be the new normal in the West. But what no one could predict before 2020 was how a global pandemic would exacerbate the health effects of wildfire smoke.

 

Cian Fenton/ Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, Idaho had mostly clear skies and acceptable air quality. But over the weekend, smoke from major West coast fires started to slink in.


John Locher / AP Images

After starting the week with a promising downward trend in new COVID-19 cases, Idaho saw it's deadliest single day this week. Still, health districts are considering opening bars and schools while downtown Boise is losing a corporate tenant. At the same time, unprecedented wildfires spurred by climate change, poor fire policy and building practices are burning through communities in neighboring Oregon and Washington, providing a cautionary tale to Idaho as smoke moves back into the region.

Steve Conner / AP Images

On today's Reporter Roundtable, we discuss the upcoming special session for lawmakers during a pandemic, what cancelling Boise State University's football season means for the school's bottom line, the inequities in school reopenings facing Latino students, and fighting wildfires during COVID-19.  

As wildfire season approaches, land managers are planning for ways to keep firefighters safe from COVID-19  during big burns. Tess Goodwin has more.


Elaine Thompson / AP Images

 


The coronavirus has stopped many things that happen each year: birthdays, weddings and holidays just to name a few. But one thing that doesn’t stop because of a virus is wildfires.

Bureau of Land Management

 


COVID-19 is taking most of our attention now, but in the midst of it all, another crisis is on the horizon: it’s almost wildfire season in Idaho. 

Four months after the Camp Fire incinerated his home and the entire nearby town of Paradise, California, Randy Larsen sat on the steps of his RV and struggled to process what he'd survived.

Flickr Creative Commons, John Westrock

If a wildfire was threatening your home, would you evacuate? What if the threat was only about the smoke, would your answer change?

 


For much of the last decade, air pollution was decreasing. But it’s now on the rise, particularly in the West.

That’s according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It found that between 2016 and 2018, the levels of fine particulate matter increased 11.5% in the West. California's been impacted the most.

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Wildfires have taken place across the West for centuries. But as climate change and explosive growth create dangerous conditions for folks who live in Idaho, how does wildfire smoke factor in? Turns out, smoke has a more widespread effect. But according to a new study people in the Treasure Valley do not percieve this danger in the same way. Idaho Matters talks with two Boise State University researchers looking at the gap between public perception and the hazards of smoke. 

A new study suggests huge fire blankets can help protect homes during wildfires.

FLICK/NPS CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE

Idaho’s fairly quiet fire year is reflected in its bank account, with this year’s wildfire bill coming in far less than average.


Wildland firefighters use fire retardant — the red stuff that air tankers drop — to suppress existing blazes. But Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid they say makes fire retardant last longer and could prevent wildfires from igniting in the first place if applied to ignition-prone areas.

Reservoirs can get messy after a big wildfire. The issue isn’t the fire itself, it’s what happens after. 

Our region is leading the way on training helicopter pilots to fight fires at night.  There are costs and hazards involved but the move could also help firefighters get the most threatening blazes under control more quickly.

A recent study says the American West should be doing more prescribed burns to keep forests healthy and to help lessen the impacts of wildfires across our region. It also concluded that there needs to be a change in how we perceive the practice out here for that to happen.

Kari Greer / Boise National Forest

Wildfires are still burning across the Mountain West, but far fewer than in the last few years.


Boise State Photo Services

Wildland firefighters spend the summer season working in the state and beyond, but fires don't just end by the start of the new school year.

 

Molly Wampler, Boise State Public Radio

Thick smoke from summertime wildfires can present major health risks. Prediction models help locals prepare for poor air quality to come, but the data behind those models is not as conclusive as we might think.

 

Adrian Black / Flickr

Recent wildfires in the Stanley area got a little help from FirstNet. It was a higher frequency network created by Congress after 9-11 to ensure first responders have the service they need to communicate. A “Cell on Light Truck” was sent to the Stanley area fires to help multiple agencies talk to each other. Idaho Matters finds out more about FirstNet and how it helps in emergencies, like wildfires.

  • Reporter Roundtable Time!
  • Using FirstNet on Idaho wildfires.
  • Cutting down Bogus Basin trees.

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