wildfire

The Nature Conservancy

Independence Lake is just north of Truckee but is perhaps one of the last hidden gems of the Sierra. It’s pristine, quiet, and it serves as Reno’s last resort water supply—all reasons why more than twenty agencies are partnering to preserve it. For our series Beyond Tahoe: Exploring Our Waterways, KUNR News Director Michelle Bliss heads to this small, relatively unknown, lake to learn more.

In order to set foot on the rocky, seemingly untouched shore of Independence Lake, it’s recommended that you have 4-wheel drive. 

US Forest Service / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Last week, Congress set aside emergency disaster aid for fighting wildfires, but it's only a temporary fix.

In August, the U.S. Forest Service released an alarming statistic: For the first time in history, more than half the agency’s annual budget is going to fight wildfires, compared to 16 percent in 1995. Tom Blush, with the U.S. Forest Service, explains.

“The fires are sucking our funding from just about everything else we do. ”

Andrea Booher / FEMA

The rain is helping to stamp out fires in the West, but wildfire season isn’t over yet. In fact, drought and high temperatures have expanded the fire season from a summertime concern to a year-round worry. Rachel Cleetus, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, says that's a health issue.

“That smoke endangers not just the immediate environment; it can be carried hundreds of miles away. So this year when there were these fires in California – the Valley Fire, the Butte Fire, and so forth -- we were seeing smoke carried to Reno, Nevada and other places.”

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. 

Latest Updates On The Washington Fire

Jun 23, 2015
Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators

9 a.m. Monday Update:

With more than a thousand personnel working to put out the Washington Fire, the blaze is now 45% contained. Officials with the U.S. Forest Service say that the fire threat to Markleeville has diminished and firefighting efforts were helped over the weekend by higher humidity, lower temperatures, and light rains. 

State Highway 4 is now open from Markleeville to Ebbetts Pass for through traffic. Highway 89 to Monitor Pass and to Wolf Creek Road remains closed. 

8 p.m. Friday Update:

angelfire.com

Washoe County and the City of Reno have both approved moving forward with negotiations to nail down an automatic aid agreement for fire service. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss has those details. 

Under a new law approved in the latest legislative session, the two entities must find a way to allow the closest fire engine to respond to any brush or structural fires. Both the county commission and city council met Monday and agreed to a list of factors that need to be hashed out, including how to fairly reimburse each fire department for services provided. 

With historically high temperatures, low humidity, and dry, dry land, Northern Nevada is facing what could be a devastating fire season. For our ongoing series on the drought and all its ripple effects, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss ventured out to Washoe Valley where local firefighters have been preparing for what this summer may bring.  

Greg Jackson is an operator for the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, and he’s hiking through the woods to a half-dead, towering pine tree that his crew will cut down for practice. 

UPDATE Thursday 8:30 AM:

A fire near Applegate in Placer County continues to burn on the east side of Interstate 80. The eastbound lanes were temporarily shut down Wednesday because of the blaze. As of this morning, only one lane was open for traffic heading toward Nevada.

The fire is 420 acres and about 20 percent contained. So far, 5 homes have been destroyed and 1,000 structures are currently threatened. An evacuation order still remains in effect for locals in the area. 

Check back for more updates.

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