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Wildfire

Summer 2022

Permanence

The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius conceived of three primary virtues for structures: beauty, utility, and firmitas, a term that can be translated as permanence. Naturally, buildings can’t be crafted to last through time immemorial. What is permanence if even stone monuments wear away into sand?

Moreover, as Washington State University architecture professor Ayad Rahmani asks in this issue’s essay, maybe the longevity of structures should be questioned. Rahmani writes about Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic view of buildings and their inevitable decay, and that we should perhaps consider their “measured return to the earth.”

We don’t really expect our buildings to last forever, but we rely … » More …

Golden sun glow around forest and field
Summer 2022

Video: Slow Burn

A silent slow burn consumes thousands of acres of Washington State every year and the tribal lands are no exception to this burn. This burn isn’t caused by a wildfire and doesn’t produce any visible smoke. It’s the encroachment of invasive species as they slowly consume native and beneficial vegetation.

Tribes in the Pacific Northwest rely heavily upon natural resources for income generation and sustaining a way of life. There are significant wildlife, agriculture, and rangeland impacts to the Tribal lands.

(The video below was produced by Nathan Moses-Gonzales, M3 Consulting Group.)

 

 

Read about Native prescribed fire practices.

Horses in a burned field
Summer 2022

Tips on keeping animals safe during wildfires

Wildfires affect many aspects of a community beyond the charred and devastated landscape. During a major blaze, residents must deal with smoke, fire retardants, evacuations, power outages, disrupted supply chains, and more.

Often forgotten in the equation are the damaging effects wildfire has on domestic animals. Smoke-induced respiratory problems, exposure to firefighting chemicals, and injuries from running through barbed-wire fences are common.

Linda McLean, WSU Extension director for the Colville Reservation helps residents prepare for wildfire season through public workshops and a variety of fire-related resources. She urges all pet and livestock owners to create an emergency evacuation plan for the safe transportation and shelter … » More …

Wine glass splashing with smoke. Photo Dreamstime
Summer 2018

Smoke gets in your wine

Smoke truly gets under the skin of wine grapes.

As microscopic particles and liquid droplets ooze and eddy through the vineyard, grapes are coated with toxic chemicals. Worse, smoke from forest and range fires manages to get into the plant itself, wreaking havoc with the plant’s internal chemistry.

In self-defense, grape vines attempt to sequester toxic smoke particles that infiltrate berries and leaves by binding sugar molecules to the offending invaders. The plant can then metabolically shuffle the sugar-trapped particles into places where the smoke won’t be as harmful to the vines’ mission: produce grapes and reproduce.

Humans interfere with the vines’ mission when we … » More …

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 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 you … » 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.