Giant forest fires roam across northern Alberta

Strange May blazes burn a third of Slave Lake, Alberta, and threaten to cook the tar sands area-

It’s only mid-May, and it still struggles to get much above 60 degrees here in Eastern Idaho, but forest fires are torching northern Alberta, not all that far from the Arctic Circle. A third of the town of 7000 at Slave Lake burned.  In the general area, many of the giant tar sand pits have been evacuated.  This is near Ft. McMurray.  Temperatures have been in the high 70s and 80s.

Hundreds of homes now just smouldering rubble.  Premier, mayor shaken by scope of devastation in Slave Lake. Edmonton Journal. By Mariam Ibrahim, Ryan Cormier and Ben Gelinas

Other fires continue to burn across northern Alberta.   By Ryan Cormier, Edmonton Journal.

Raging fires stop oil and gas operations.  Hundreds evacuated from facilities.  By Dina O’Meara, Calgary Herald

Climate Change Takes Toll on Lodgepole Pine

The most abundant of all Western pine falls at astounding rate-

Every Western pine from the Yukon to New Mexico is suffering high mortality from unusually severe attack by native insects, diseases and direct mortality from drought and heat. Lodgepole pine, which often grows in vast almost monocultural stands, is dying too.  Almost anyone who lives in the West knows this. In many places the beauty of the forest has been greatly marred for many miles.

Climate Change Takes Toll on the Lodgepole Pine. By John Collins Rudolf. New York Times.

When lodgepole pine dies, the needles first turn red for a year before they fall off.  While red, they burn with remarkable explosive force.  After they are dead, however, lodgepole and other dead conifers do not burn as fiercely as a green forest.  A common misconception is that they do, a mistake this New York Times article perpetuates. Lodgepole are shallow rooted.  When dead they are easily blown over in windstorms.  If they pile up in large “jackstrawed” heaps, these can burn very hot.  Miles of downed lodgepole also form barriers to wildlife migration.

I took this photo of red lodgepole pine near Stanley, Idaho about 5 years ago. Since then, they have almost all died and many fallen over or cut down. They didn’t burn.

Fires in northwest Wyoming

Both prescribed and wildfires are burning-

I think the Antelope Fire on Mt. Washburn is reburning the burn from 1988 or at least some spots immediately nearby that were missed by the big fire. I took many photos of the 1988 burn on the mountain, during and after.

Fires grab attention. Jackson Hole Daily. By Thomas Dewell, Jackson Hole, Wyo

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Late season fires sweep Wyoming. By Jeremy Pelzer. Casper Star-Tribune.
From a modest beginning a few days ago, wildfires have increased greatly in Wyoming and at a time  they are usually ending for the year.

Natural restoration advances rapidly in the big Castle Rock burn near Ketchum/Hailey, Idaho

The 50,000 acre fire was 3 years ago-

The Idaho Mountain Express has an article detailing the regrowth in the big burn next to Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho. This is a very popular recreation area, so its restoration is noticeable to a lot of people. Similar articles could be written about several million more acres of burns in central Idaho — burns of the last decade.

The Idaho places where restoration is not going well are the millions of acres of rangelands (more properly sagebrush steppe) where cheatgrass has fueled vast fires, destroying native grasses, forbs and shrubs, creating more of itself for future fires. This year about 3/4 million acres of Idaho rangeland has burned.

Related. Utah has mildest wildfire season in a decade. By jason bergreen. The Salt Lake Tribune

More related. Rain, snow and lower temperatures help tame central Idaho wildfire. Idaho Statesman.

Idaho wildfire update: 312,595 acres burning as of Friday

New fires dwindling with cooler weather.

Most of the 312,595 acres burned is due to the massive cheat grass fire in southern Idaho. The Long Butte Fire burned 306,000 acres since Saturday night.

Idaho wildfire update: 312,595 acres burning as of Friday.
Idaho Statesman

Update Aug. 29 (Sunday)Southern Idaho wildfires continue to grow
However, the fire danger from storms is decreasing, and the weather seems to be cooperating with fire crews.

Idaho Statesman.

Long Butte fire in southern Idaho burns 215,000 acres in one day

Fire moved up to 30 miles an hour at times

Southern Idaho experienced quite a wind storm Saturday night with lightning and little rain. Boise was hit hard with power outages caused by downed trees all over town due to 70 mile per hour gusts of wind. The Long Butte fire started that night and moved quickly to the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument where it burned 3/4 of the monument.

UPDATE: Fire’s progress into Gooding County halted; fire now covers 215,000 acres.

Mass forest fires overwhelm part of Russia

Russian fires unstoppable in abnormal heat-

Russia blames fires on global warming. Moscow hits 100 degrees. New York Times. By John Collins Rudolf.

Russia moves rockets as wildfires spread. Associated Press.

Meanwhile summer forest fires are a bit below normal in the western United States, although air is getting is typical August haze or worse in many places. Numerous soaking thunderstorms have washed over southern and central Utah and Colorado, Arizona.