Putting Out The Fire

When it comes to wildfires in the West, there are many startling statistics.

Across 11 Western states, there are more than 60 large fires burning now, consuming more than 1.5 million acres. Nevada and California rank as two of the top 10 most wildfire-prone states in the country. 

Each year, the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior spend an average of $3.4 billion to fight these types of fires. That's three times what they spent annually back in the 1990's.

With prolonged drought conditions and warmer temperatures due to climate change, officials with the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District say the region's fire season, which typically spans from June to September, is now year-round. In fact, the Caughlin Ranch Fire was in November of 2011 and the Washoe Drive Fire was in December of 2012. They each burned nearly 30 homes and caused millions of dollars in damage. 

For our series Putting Out the Fire, Reno Public Radio is exploring some of the innovative approaches to fighting and preventing devastating wildfires. 

Drone America

Our series Putting Out The Fire has been exploring new ways of fighting and preventing devastating wildfires, which are a major threat to Nevada and California during this fourth year of drought. In this segment, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss explores how high-tech cameras and drones are rewriting the rules of firefighting.

Mike Richards is CEO of Drone America, a small company on the forefront of changing how emergency responders can fight fires. He likens the drones of tomorrow to comic-book superheroes of the past.  

Amy Westervelt

The U.S. Forest Service is sounding the alarm about the skyrocketing cost of wildfires. The agency now spends more than half its budget dealing with fires, compared to 16 percent in 1995. This week KUNR’s news team is looking at new ways to cope with wildfires in our series, Putting Out The Fire. In the second story we look at a controversial new strategy that could help forests adapt to warming climates. 

 

J. Michael Johnson, National Park Service

Wildfires in the West are getting larger and more intense every year. Right now, 66 large fires are burning in 11 western states, consuming more than a million and a half acres. California and Nevada rank in the top 10 most wildfire-prone states in the country. This week our series Putting Out the Fire examines innovative approaches to fighting and preventing fire. In our first story, we look at some new thinking around fire, and ideas for protecting your home.