A bipartisan coalition of Western U.S. lawmakers has renewed a call to change how the federal government pays to put out big forest fires. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management divert money from fire prevention and other programs to pay firefighting costs during bad fire years.
If it had to happen, the worst case scenario couldn’t have played out more smoothly. That’s the sentiment in Mosier, Oregon, where a train loaded with highly volatile Bakken crude oil derailed two months ago.
Tuesday’s high winds set two major new fires raging in Washington state. One ripped across grassy eastern Washington flats near Moses Lake and the other up a steep canyon near the Snake River and Pullman.
Officials from the Hanford nuclear reservation and Energy Northwest have been meeting with fire managers in southeast Washington state Tuesday. The nearby Range 12 Fire has grown to more than 177,000 acres and high winds are predicted this evening.
About a dozen wildfires are currently burning around the Northwest. The Bybee fire is a small one at 50 acres. It is uncontained and sending up smoke on the west side of Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon.
Hot temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds forecast for this weekend have land managers across the Northwest worried about wildfires. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings in both Oregon and Washington.