wildfire

Lance Cheung / USDA

Colorado and Oregon researchers writing this week in the journal Science say there's an urgent need to reevaluate wildfire management practices, calling for more “collaborative governance” and more prescribed fire.

“Science tells us these are fire-adapted ecosystems and we have to get fire back on the ground, and that’s a key strategy for mitigating future fire and also for the long-term resilience of those ecosystems,” said Courtney Schultz, professor of natural resource policy and governance at Colorado State University.

Jesse D. Acosta

Wildland firefighters use fire retardant — the red stuff that air tankers drop — to suppress existing blazes. But Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid they say makes fire retardant last longer and could prevent wildfires from igniting in the first place if applied to ignition-prone areas.

Brendan Murphy / Utah State University

Reservoirs can get messy after a big wildfire. The issue isn’t the fire itself, it’s what happens after. 

Photo by Kirk Siegler / KUNC

Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will sweep across the continent to affect tens of millions of people and cause a spike in premature deaths.

That emerging reality is prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to gird themselves for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains — the regions widely expected to suffer most from blazes tied to dryer, warmer conditions.

Colorado is testing out self-driving ATVs to assist wildland firefighters at work. The state is working with Honda to test out the company’s emerging technology.    

Rae Ellen Bichell / Mountain West News Bureau

A few months ago, John Parker retired and moved into a salmon-colored log house on a mountain called Tungsten in unincorporated Boulder County.

"Just to get a little piece of heaven, get away from the madding crowd," he says.

Inside, a wood-fired stove fills the house with heat and a low hum. Outside, the snow feels like thick, gritty icing. The wind barrels up a slope, gathering snow into a glittery stream. When the glitter stream meets the house, it curves around and hugs it, piling up around the back steps. It does not feel like the time to think about wildfires. But if that same wind was carrying embers instead of snow, those would follow the same path and instead of glittering, that pile by the back door would be glowing.

A recent report from NOAA’s National Centers for Environment Information shows there were 14 severe weather events across the country last year costing a total of $89.4 billion. Five of those affected the Mountain West region.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — One of three people accused of starting a central Colorado wildfire that destroyed eight homes has pleaded guilty.

KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs reports 19-year-old Kegan Owens struck a deal with prosecutors and acknowledged Monday that he started an illegal campfire in late June. The plea agreement calls for a year and a half in prison followed by a year of probation.

Photo by Kirk Siegler / KUNC

Forest managers say 2.9 million residents now live in areas at risk of wildfire in Colorado, up 45 percent over five years.

The State Forest Service released updated statistics Monday on the number of people who live in the wildland-urban interface, where homes are built near or within areas prone to wildland fire.