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Wildfire

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 …

Satellite map showing smoke covering the entire state of Washington on September 5, 2017
Summer 2018

In the hazy days of summer

It’s no secret that wildfires are on the rise throughout the western United States. Come summer, the plumes of gray-brown smoke seem to arrive weeks earlier and often linger well into fall. The smoke irritates sinuses, clings to clothes, and despite your efforts, seeps into homes and cars like an ever-present smoldering campfire.

On those haze-filled days, people often wonder, “Is it safe for the kids to play outside? To hold a neighborhood BBQ? What about those with asthma or other respiratory problems?”

Engineers at the Washington State University Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (LAR) are helping provide answers through a powerful computer modeling system … » 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 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 …