Wildfires

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.

Wildfires are a common part of life in our region. According to new research, they can also give scientists valuable information about the climate effects of another potential disaster: nuclear war.

Peter Radunzel / Flickr

It’s time for our Reporter Roundtable, where we get you up to date on all the news that made headlines around our region. Joining us this week are Kevin Richert of Idaho Ed News, Mike Sharp of KIVI Six On Your Side Television and Seth Ogilvie of Idaho Public Televison.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

It’s no secret that wildfires are getting worse in the West. They’re threatening lives, homes and ecosystems. And they are also threatening our already-precarious watersheds. It’s all becoming a vicious cycle  — especially for the drier parts of our region.

  • Reporter Roundtable.
  • Wildfires and snowmelt in the West.
  • World War II planes come to Nampa.

It’s no secret that wildfires are getting worse in the West. They’re threatening lives, homes and ecosystems. And they are also threatening our already-precarious watersheds. It’s all becoming a vicious cycle  — especially for the drier parts of our region. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Images

In Idaho, we all experience wildfire smoke during the summer. But what is the cumulative effect of this smoke on our health, and how do we know when to take action? Is it getting worse in an era of climate change? We talk with Austin Walkins from the Idaho Conservation League. The advocacy organization has a new checklist for folks to understand their risks and make a plan.

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing 11,000 miles of fuel breaks throughout our region to help combat the spread of wildfires.

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