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Forest fires

Fall 2011

How to protect your home from wildfires

If you live in a wildfire-prone area, preparation and forethought is key to your personal safety and preserving your home.  You can follow these ten FireSafe steps to prepare your home and land.

(Courtesy www.firesafespokane.com, a service of the Washington Department of Natural Resources)

1. Recognize the hazard

Fire is a natural part of our environment. In Spokane County, the grasses and pine forests have been subjected to fires every 3 to 30 years. This is a normal part of our Eco-system. There are more than 300,000 people living in Spokane County and many live in or adjacent to forestland. Understand the steps … » More …

Fall 2011

Video: Valley View Fires of 2008 and Firewise Community

In 2008, the Valley View fire in the Dishman Hills outside of Spokane burned 13 homes and 1,200 acres. A number of homes survived because residents applied Firewise principles to protect their residences. In this video produced by the Spokane County Conservation District, some of those residents discuss the fire, how they prepared their homes, and what happened during the blaze.

Length: 19 minutes, 21 seconds.

Courtesy Spokane County Conservation District. 

Read more about wildfires and communities in “When wildfire comes to town.”

Fall 2011

When wildfire comes to town

Flames ripped through the pines and brush in the Dishman Hills west of Spokane Valley in July 2008, just as they’ve done for thousands of years. A dry wind pushed the fire up a hill, hotter and faster, and straight into a new development of expensive homes, destroying 13 of them and burning 1,200 acres.

The wildfire’s destruction was not surprising or unexpected. But the number of homes and residents who survived the blaze serves as a testament to smart planning, an awareness of inevitable fires, and research into the interaction of fire-prone wildlands and the growing number of people who live near them.

Although … » More …

Winter 2001

Hot shot

“Nothing beats a hot shot crew. You are like the green berets, the special forces of fire. It’s a camaraderie like no other.”

WHEN CHRIS BOLZ came looking for summer work nine years ago, the fire boss took one look at the athletic 19-year-old and said, “Son, this is your lucky day.”

Bored out of his wits in Tonasket, Washington, Bolz had walked into the nearest Forest Service office at his father’s insistence. They said they could use him right away on a blaze in Wenatchee, so Bolz agreed to go. Then the fire boss reached into his pocket for a book of matches, and … » More …

Fall 2003

Flames in Our Forest: Disaster or Renewal?

Forest fires have been much in the news. Beginning with the Yellowstone fires in 1988, the West has lived through a series of intense fire years. In 2000, the federal government spent nearly $1.6 billion fighting fires. But over the same period there has been a discordant message: fires, we are told, shaped the forests and the wildlife that inhabit them; fires are, in fact, necessary to the continued existence of many species of plants and animals. Smokey the Bear’s message of fire’s destructive nature, his plea on behalf of other woodland creatures that “fires destroy more than trees,” has lost its venerable certainty.

Are … » More …

Winter 2006

Mimicking Nature's Fire: Restoring Fire-Prone Forests in the West

Forest health has been much in the news. It is a powerful metaphor—but one of uncertain and ambiguous content. Congress has used it to avoid environmental assessments of logging; opponents of logging have often portrayed it as a smokescreen. Mimicking Nature’s Fire is in part a guide to this debate. Stephen Arno (’65 For.), a forest ecologist, and Carl E. Fiedler, a silviculturist, have combined their talents to argue for “restoration forestry,” an approach that seeks to reestablish “an approximation of historical structure and ecological processes to tree communities that were in the past shaped by distinctive patterns of fire.” The book is divided into … » More …