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Category Archives: fire

Around here the biggest disaster the people worry about is wildfire. Last year we had more than our share of fires in North Central Washington and many folks were trapped in their houses for days in hopes of avoiding the choking smoke. I am reminded of this now with the US Forest Service doing controlled burning in hopes of preventing uncontrolled fires in the future. The smell is strong in the air and I can see the smoke’s haze all over the valley.

One gift of fire is the morel mushroom. The fire morel is a delicacy that is hunted with great zeal in a burned landscape. My uncle came to visit this week in hopes of getting the mushroom season off to a good start. He had studied last year’s fires’ locations and aspects and picked one area to explore. He was right. With the little bit warmer weather we are finally getting, the fungi are just starting to show themselves and we both came home with about a gallon of them. He said the ones we harvested are most likely natural morels and that the fire morels will come on a bit later. On our menu last night was morel risotto! What a treat.

 

 

The landscape looks very bleak.

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I heard and saw Black-backed Woodpeckers who come into a burned forest almost immediately to consume the insects that have arrived to consume the dead trees.

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Many of the morels were growing out from under rocks and burned roots. This is a nice looking one.

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I also heard Canyon Wrens’ beautiful songs from the cliffs above.

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Back in April, there was a fire on our hillside – you can see the images from that day here. Our neighbor’s place suffered a lot of damage and he asked me to document the recovery over the course of the growing seasons with my camera. He set up a photo point for me to visit on a regular basis and after 2 1/2 months, it’s easy to see that recovery is well on its way. So far, there has not been a big influx of weeds in most places. In fact, the native wildflowers are doing well – even more abundant than in the areas that were not burned! The bitterbrush, a favorite food for the local mule deer, does not seem to be sprouting back. This will be a major change in the habitat. Grasses and forbs are doing well.

 

April 20, three days following the fire. The yellow rebar marks the photo point.

 

May 1. The burned pine tree on the right and bent over to the left burned bitterbrush show up in all the images in this series.

 

May 13

 

May 22

 

May 30

 

June 14

 

June 28

 

Balsamroot bloomed very well in the burned area.

 

Lupine is blooming more abundantly and for a longer season in the burned area compared to the non-burned area.

 

Douglas sunflowers are also more abundant.

 

Lush growth

 

The day of the fire.

 

 

Before we left on vacation, there was still a foot and a half of snow in our yard. Our road went from slush to ice to mud depending on the temperature each day. Walking was difficult because the snow was soft and wet.

When we returned on Sunday the snow was all gone and wildflowers were starting to bloom. We were grateful for spring.

Yesterday, all that changed. Someone’s burning brush pile got away and fire raced up the hillside pushed by high afternoon winds. As I drove home from town I could see the flames on the hillside above our house and I could see that our neighbor’s place was threatened. I wondered if there would be a road block and worried about the dog that was still in the house. In my driveway I found a person in a phone company truck who had been knocking on doors to warn people. When he realized no one was home and there was a barking dog inside, he stayed in case he needed to get her out of the house. There were many fire trucks and firefighters already in place and a bulldozer too. Their response and hard work kept the fire from spreading more. Our neighbor’s place was spared because he has a good sized expanse of gravel around it.

Hopefully the bitterbrush and wildflowers will come back and we won’t see an invasion of noxious weeds.

 

The scene from here on March 27

 

It was a hot fire that luckily, was contained by hard work and lots of water.

 

At the neighbor’s place. The burning pile in the background used to be five cords of firewood.

 

The fire burned all around his place

 

Our house is down the hill from this point 

 

 

Here is a link to a video of the fire and firefighting efforts.

 

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Luna and Kelly got to go swimming in the river while Sam got to go to the office with Ken.
Luna likes to swim
Luna likes to swim
We’ve been seeing these too often the last week or so with all the lightning.
Fire fighting helicopter
The haze from distant fires makes for pretty sunsets.
sunset
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