Dodging the fires

For a second year, the Northwest seems to have mostly avoided the large wildfires that were such a plague only a few years ago.

The weather has to have a lot to do with it: The heavy rains earlier this year, substantial snowpacks and the summer that didn’t really get underway until around Independence Day. Washington has been unusually lucky, with only a few substantial fires, mainly in the northeast. Oregon and Idaho have done nearly as well, though the fires circling Bend early last month were fierce enough to send their smoke across the Cascades. And Idaho has had some significant blazes, though of moderate size and generally well off from human habitation (many in remote areas in the region near Salmon).

Current federal wildfire mapping indicates four fires in Idaho, two in Oregon, none in Washington.

Some of this was luck, though. An Oregonian article out today notes that a massive area of the Fremont-Winema National Forest in southwest Oregon (around the Klamath Falls area) has been hit by pine beetles which have damaged immense stands of trees across 300,000 acres. “Foresters and firefighters held their breath when lightning storms swept through in August, sparking numerous fires but sparing the Fremont-Winema,” the paper said.

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