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Category Archives: wildfire

I just looked back at some of my summer posts from before the fires started. Hikes, wildflowers, fun with friends and dogs, celebrations, camping with my husband. I am lucky to have such a good life. After the fire my life will gone on as before but with a greater awareness of the dangers of wildfires.

For others, that is not the case. Authorities are now saying that 300 homes were lost. 300 families displaced. There was already a lack of family homes in this valley. Where do these people go? Will they stay? Do they have friends and families to take them in til new arrangements can be made? It’s a tragedy.

In addition to homes for people, homes for wildlife have been destroyed. Most of the mule deer winter range burned. Where will they turn? The berry crop was destroyed. What will the bears eat? Where will the birds build nests next summer? How many animals could not outrun the fire?

Yesterday I drove to Chelan with MA and even though we’d seen countless images of the destruction, we were both taken aback by the scenes along the way.

 

It has been a week since the brief lightning storm went through north central Washington and small fires began burning. Now, 7 days later in Okanogan County alone 250,000 acres and 150 homes are in ashes. And the fires are not contained. More than 1000 fire fighters from around the country and countless aircraft are working to protect the landscape and homes. All power is out in the Methow valley. The only way to access the Internet is with a smart phone or tablet and service is sketchy. Communications are very frustrating. We are safe in our house for the moment. There were a couple of days when we were ready to flee if the fire across the valley advanced to the county road. Many folks are homeless so while we may feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable because of the smoke we really have nothing to complain about.

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It has been a week since the small lightning storm went through north central Washington and small fires began burning. Now, in Okanogan County alone 250,000 acres and 150 homes are in ashes. And the fires are not contained. More than 1000 fire fighters from around the country and countless aircraft are working to protect the landscape and homes. All power is out in the Methow valley. The only way to access the Internet is with a smart phone or tablet and service is sketchy. Communications are very frustrating. We are safe in our house for the moment. There were a couple of days when we were ready to flee if the fire across the valley advanced to the county road. Many folks are homeless so while we may feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable because of the smoke we really have nothing to complain about.

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Around here, we worry about wild fires. These fears have been confirmed this week. On Monday a small lightning storm went through north central Washington leaving behind small fires in the tinder dry grass and ponderosa pines. One fire quickly flared, south of here in Texas Creek causing mandatory evacuations. It grew quickly and yesterday it crossed the highway and the Methow River at the bottom of Libby Creek. As I understand, it is now burning south towards Gold Creek.

Another fire, directly across the valley from our house, burned slowly. It was named Cougar Flats for the area where it started. Tuesday afternoon the wind picked up and it grew quickly on state and federal land. Yesterday it grew by leaps and bounds and last night it made a run south towards homes and farms. More evacuations this morning.

Here are some photos I made last night from my porch. I think the glowing horizon is the timber in Pipestone Canyon.

As of this time, we are in no immediate danger. I worry about those that are.

In other parts of the word, natural disasters take shape as tornadoes or hurricanes, floods or drought, earthquakes and other natural phenomenon. Here in the inland western part of this country, we worry about fire. Last year, in September, central Washington was especially hard hit. For most of the month smoke blanketed the valleys while in the mountains trees burned and wildlife tried to survive. Historically, fire was common in these forests and in many cases not nearly as destructive as it has become. This is due to generations of fire suppression. To those unfamiliar with this, it may seem counter intuitive. Now forest managers try to use controlled burns to prevent massive wildfires. By burning underbrush, the progress of a future fire will be slowed and less destructive.

Many of last year’s fires were caused by lightning. Several of them between Wenatchee and Ellensburg burned together and consumed over 100,000 acres. Ken and I used to spend time in that area and we got a chance to explore it a bit last Sunday.

 

This area did not burn too hot. Some trees will survive

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Nothing survived here. Not a bit of green to be seen anywhere. It burned very hot.

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But in that blackened landscape, the magical morel mushroom grows.

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And in a draw, a small creek emerges from the ground

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This area will one day be a gorgeous meadow, home to lots of animals and wildflowers.

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We saw elk tracks through here

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Rainier beer. An original regional brewery.

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Another tiny creek brings green to the burned forest

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And then, just across the draw are living trees.

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I found these grave markers. Who were the Sandhop’s and why were they buried up in the mountains?

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This old picnic table might date back to the CCC era early in the last century

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Ken and Luna rest before we make the long trek back home.

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Our basket of morels – enough for a couple of meals.

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