wildfire

Truckee Meadows Fire and Rescue Truck
Scott King

This story was originally published to the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science's website on August 22, 2020.

California is blazing with three of the largest wildfires in the state’s history, with much of the state facing smoke-filled skies and evacuation orders. In just seven days, the fires have charred nearly a million acres, according to Cal Fire, which is more than triple the area burned during a typical fire season (a little over 300,000 acres). In the Tahoe region and the Great Basin, firefighters are already exhausted as they gear up for more potential fires during a dry fall.

Skies are hazy across the region thanks to the many wildfires burning in the West, and that smoke is more dangerous during the pandemic. 

Bureau of Land Management Nevada / Twitter

As of 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, KUNR is no longer actively updating this web post. For the latest updates on the Loyalton Fire, follow #LoyaltonFire, @TMFPD or @Tahoe_NF on Twitter or visit the InciWeb Incident Overview

Update: Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020 at 9:14 am

The Loyalton Fire has consumed just more than 47,000 acres and is 75 percent contained. All evacuations related to this fire have been lifted and there are no road closures due to this fire.

A tornado swirling inside of a wildfire.
Courtesy of Tasha Farrell

No, it's not a sci-fi movie. A fire tornado touched down near the Nevada-California border Saturday, during the Loyalton Fire about 25 miles west of Reno, Nev.

Smoke billowing near U.S. 395 near Hallelujah Junction.
Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District via Twitter

As of 4:10 p.m. on August 6, 2020, KUNR is no longer actively updating this post. For the latest updates on this fire, follow the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District on Twitter @TMFPD or search Twitter for #NorthFire.

4:08 p.m. | Aug. 6, 2020

The North Fire near Hallelujah Junction is 70 percent contained according to the Bureau of Land Management and has consumed more than 6,800 acres. Crews are continuing to put out any remaining hot spots and patrolling the area, according to InciWeb.

Rock Farm Fire In South Reno Now Under Control

Jul 21, 2020
An image looking at the smoke from the Rockfarm Fire in south Reno
Natalie Van Hoozer / KUNR Public Radio

As of July 22, 2020, KUNR is no longer actively updating this page. 

TMFPD Fire Chief Charles Moore said in a press conference that the Rock Farm Fire in South Reno is now under control,  but that is subject to wind conditions.

A fire and smoke on the side of a mountain.
Image from ALERTWildfire Greater Tahoe cameras on Twitter @nvfirecams

As of 5:01 p.m. on July 13, 2020, KUNR is no longer actively updating this blog.

5:00 p.m. | July 13, 2020

Investigators have determined the cause of the Numbers Fire, burning south of Gardnerville.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Lots of wildfire smoke in the summer can lead to more flu outbreaks in the winter, according to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International

Fire burns at dusk on a foothill
Luke Flynt / Unsplash

Reno saw one of its first major wildfire events of the dry season this past weekend with the Poeville Fire. And with the pandemic going on, agencies across the West are having to rethink how to fight fires while fighting the novel coronavirus.

Smoke casts a shadow on a sunset behind a stadium
Bree Zender / KUNR

KUNR is providing updates on the Poeville Fire. Click here for more information. For the most current information about the Poeville Fire, visit @TMPFD and @HumboldtToiyabe on Twitter.

Hundreds evacuated from neighborhoods north of Reno Saturday as the Poeville Fire burned multiple structures. 

Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District officials said on Sunday morning the fire had charred approximately 3,500 acres. As of Sunday morning, firefighters had built containment lines around 10 percent of the burn area. More high wind gusts and dry conditions are expected through late Sunday.

Many parts of the Mountain West are predicted to have above normal wildfire potential this summer. The coronavirus promises to make fire season abnormal in other ways, too.

An image of a firefighter fighting a wildfire
Colorado's West Metro Fire Protection District

As the pandemic decimates local budgets across the Mountain West, another threat looms large at local fire stations across the region: wildfires. That has lawmakers and firefighters demanding more federal support.

An image of a firefighter standing outside of a truck, spraying water, and wearing a facemask.
Bureau of Land Management

How are wildland firefighters expected to battle blazes during a pandemic? That's not entirely clear, but a bipartisan bill proposed by Mountain West lawmakers aims to help ensure firefighters' safety.

As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the wildfire season, it must also confront COVID-19.

Already the agency's put a stop to prescribed burning. And it says it will continue fire suppression and other activities with guidance from the CDC.

The U.S. Forest Service is rethinking how it employs firefighters.

An image showing plumes of smoke billowing across the Mountain West.
NOAA

About one-third of Americans live in areas that regularly have unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to a new analysis out this week from Environment America, an organization of state-based environmental advocacy groups throughout the country.

Researchers from a number of states, including Idaho, Colorado and Nevada, have found that grazing does not help get rid of cheatgrass, a highly flammable weed. 

Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio

With this past winter storm, prescribed burn season is ramping up in Northern Nevada and throughout the Sierra. 

Senators from Colorado and Nevada are among those sponsoring a bill aimed at reducing firefighters’ exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. 

Earlier this month the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill, which aims to protect firefighters from being exposed to a group of chemicals known as PFAS that are found in firefighting foams and gear.

Wildfire smoke crosses the U.S. on jetstream
NASA

For much of the last decade, air pollution was decreasing. But it’s now on the rise, particularly in the West.

That’s according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It found that between 2016 and 2018, the levels of fine particulate matter increased 11.5% in the West. California's been impacted the most.

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