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Fire season in West expected to get more intense

Fire season in West expected to get more intense

A truck takes the road from Lake Owen as a wildfire burns in the background at Medicine Bow National Forest west of Laramie, Wyo., in early July.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Despite widespread drought in the West and expectations of an above-average wildfire season, wildfires have burned less than half the 10-year average area so far this summer.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Wednesday that largely has been a matter of luck, with the hot windy weather known as “red flag” days not lining up with the lighting strikes that start most fires, particularly in California.

But that is changing, he said from Washington, D.C. Eighteen large fires were burning in the Northwest with intensities not normally seen until August.

With only about $1 billion budgeted for fighting wildfires, the Forest Service expects by late August to once again have to tap other funds, such as forest thinning projects, to continue fighting fires as the season goes on into the fall, Tidwell said. Last year, that amount was $500 million.

“If we can stop a fire from coming into a community, we will stop it,” he said. “Cost is just an outcome. It isn’t what drives our actions. What drives our actions is safe, effective suppression tactics.”

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Fire truck overturns while responding to blaze

GREAT FALLS — Authorities say a fire truck overturned after colliding with another vehicle as they were headed to a grass fire near Vaughn.

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Montana Guard sends helicopters, soldiers to help with fires

HELENA — The Montana Army National Guard sent 17 soldiers and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters to Washington state to support wildfire fighting o…

July 21, 2014 11:38 amLoading…

2 Wyoming air tankers in Boise to fight wildfires

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Two military air tankers from Wyoming are in Boise to help fight wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.

July 21, 2014 11:40 amLoading…

2 air tankers in Wyoming to help with wildfires

BOISE, Idaho — Authorities are bringing in two military air tankers from Wyoming to help fight wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.

July 19, 2014 9:06 pmLoading…

Firefighters battle wildfire east of Ryegate

Firefighters are battling a growing wildfire about five miles east of Ryegate.

July 19, 2014 3:15 pmLoading…

Rain helps fully contain Owen Fire in Medicine Bow

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Recent rains have helped firefighters contain a wildfire in southeastern Wyoming.

July 17, 2014 10:45 amLoading…
Wyoming wildfire in mop-up stage

Wyoming wildfire in mop-up stage

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Fire crews and equipment are being demobilized from a wildfire in southeast Wyoming.

July 11, 2014 8:40 am Photos

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Lake Owen wildfire 80 percent contained

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Firefighters have gained 80 percent containment on a wildfire burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest west of Laramie.

July 09, 2014 3:30 pmLoading…

Wyoming county hires 10 firefighters for summer

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Campbell County Fire Department has hired 10 seasonal firefighters to help fight wildfires this summer.

July 08, 2014 2:00 pmLoading…

Fire burns near Medicine Lodge archaeological site

HYATTVILLE, Wyo. — Firefighters have put out a wildfire that burned 19 acres of grassland near the Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site on…

July 08, 2014 2:00 pmLoading…

Aircraft requested for wildfire west of Laramie

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Aircraft have been requested to help contain a wildfire burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest west of Laramie.

July 08, 2014 10:30 amLoading…
Obama seeks $615 million to fight wildfires

Obama seeks $615 million to fight wildfires

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $615 million to help fight wildfires as the summer season is already prompting blaz…

July 08, 2014 9:52 amLoading…
Could drones help fight Western wildfires?

Could drones help fight Western wildfires?

TWIN FALLS, Idaho – When it comes to analyzing dangerous wildfires, could a sensor attached to a drone ever replace a human eye connected to a…

July 07, 2014 7:14 amLoading…
Musselshell County’s DES coordinator taking state job

Musselshell County’s DES coordinator taking state job

Musselshell County’s Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Jeff Gates, who has overseen his share of major natural disasters, is moving on.

July 03, 2014 3:00 pmLoading…
Smoke from Canadian fires hanging heavy over Billings

Smoke from Canadian fires hanging heavy over Billings

There’s a good reason why it’s hard to see the mountains from Billings recently.

July 01, 2014 5:21 pmLoading…
Blaze's quick growth concerns firefighter

Blaze's quick growth concerns firefighter

The conditions that allowed the Olin fire to quickly spread to more than 1,200 acres over the weekend has one fire official concerned.

June 25, 2014 3:51 pmLoading…
Fire burns 1,300 acres west of Jordan

Fire burns 1,300 acres west of Jordan

Montana’s wildland fire season got off to a hot start on Friday as a suspected lightning-caused blaze that smoldered for days sprang to life n…

June 23, 2014 1:00 pm Photos

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Study: Red squirrels may be changing how Rocky Mountain trees respond to fire

Study: Red squirrels may be changing how Rocky Mountain trees respond to fire

MISSOULA — A squirrel’s appetite for certain pine seeds may be driving evolutionary changes in lodgepole forests across the West and altering …

June 22, 2014 9:34 amLoading…

Teton views to be interrupted by anti-fire work

JACKSON, Wyo. — Some of the best views in Grand Teton National Park will be a bit harder to see over the next month because crews will periodi…

June 17, 2014 4:17 pmLoading…

Federal judge OKs logging of burned trees by roads

BOZEMAN — A federal judge has ruled that logging will be allowed along roads in part of the Gallatin National Forest scorched by wildfire.

June 12, 2014 8:26 amLoading…
Obama pitches wildfire plan to Western governors

Obama pitches wildfire plan to Western governors

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — President Barack Obama on Monday encouraged a group of governors to support a plan to pay for wildfire suppression, …

June 09, 2014 4:47 pmLoading…
Last survivor of deadly 1949 Mann Gulch fire dies

Last survivor of deadly 1949 Mann Gulch fire dies

SPOKANE, Wash. — Robert Sallee, the last survivor of the Mann Gulch wildfire in Montana that killed 13 firefighters, has died.

May 28, 2014 4:16 pm Photos

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Wildfires growing increasingly dangerous and costly, expert says

Wildfires growing increasingly dangerous and costly, expert says

MISSOULA — The buildup of forest fuels across Western states combined with modern suppression tactics and a warming climate have led to an exp…

May 21, 2014 6:45 amLoading…
Montana wildfire forecast: Cold, wet spring and summer

Montana wildfire forecast: Cold, wet spring and summer

MISSOULA — All signs point to a slow wildfire season for the northern Rockies, according to experts with the Northern Rockies Coordination Center.

May 13, 2014 10:36 am Related Loading…
As wildfire fear rises, U.S. tanker fleet incomplete

As wildfire fear rises, U.S. tanker fleet incomplete

LOS ANGELES — With a vast swath of the West primed for wildfires, federal foresters are preparing for the worst with a budget that might run d…

May 02, 2014 3:18 pm Related Loading…

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Interactive: 2013 wildfires

Interactive: 2013 wildfires

An interactive showing active blazes and charting more than 50 years of wildfire devastation

July 01, 2013 7:06 amLoading…