2015’s Summer of Fire

August 25, 2015

At least 4 firefighters killed in the Twisp, Washington area in the last few days.
My brother lives in the area, – he’s ok as of now, but it’s the second year in a row fires have threatened to burn him out.


The Okanogan Complex wildfire in Washington State has become the largest wildfire in state history, burning more than 400 square miles and counting, beating another fire that earned the dubious title just last year. As of Monday morning, the fire was only 10% contained, and officials warn that it could continue burning until snow arrives in the fall.

The fire, which has now surpassed last year’s Carlton Complex blazes, is one of at least a half-dozen large blazes burning across Washington, where a federal disaster declaration has been issued and firefighting assistance has arrived from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, in addition to state and federal assets on the ground and in the air.

In Washington, resources were so strained that officials earlier took the unprecedented step of seeking volunteers to help fight the flames. Fire officials over the weekend began providing basic fire training to volunteers who have machinery like backhoes and bulldozers so they can help dig fire lines.The surge in wildfires has smothered much of the West in a blanket of smoke, limiting visibility in Seattle and Portland, and casting a shadow in front of normally pristine vistas in national parks from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone.

These unnerving images show the scale of destruction from wildfires close to Lake Baikal, the jewel of Siberia. The sky is aglow over the Republic of Buryatia from the uncontrolled burning, the latest outbreaks of fires that have been destroying forests around the world’s oldest and deepest lake for a number of weeks.

Locals and tourists could only gaze from beaches beside the lake at the impressive but disturbing images from the flames and smoke.

The shocking scenes came amid a warning from a senior politician that wildfires now pose the greatest threat to the lake, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which contains 20% of the unfrozen freshwater on the planet.

Mikhail Slipenchuk, deputy head of the Russian parliament’s committee on natural resources and ecology, said: ‘Fires near the lake’s shores actually kill the water arteries, thus damaging the water balance in the lake’.

It feels like doomsday’, said one eyewitness.

On the lake’s eastern shore, the area is famed for its sunny bays and sandy beaches.


Open Mind:

Here (shown as black dots) is the total acres burned by wildfire in Washington state each year, together with a blue dashed line showing the yearly average, since 2002:

WashFireThe red dashed line is the acres burned by wildfires that are burning in Washington state RIGHT NOW. That’s not the yearly total, like the black dots show. It doesn’t include the fires that have burned this year but were already extinguished. And it doesn’t include the acres yet to burn. Many people are wondering, “why is the wildfire season so horrible?”

It’s global warming, stupid.

But Matt Pearce just had to write an article for the LA Times pushing the idea that it’s not unusual. And Cliff Mass updated his blog post to say “we are finally at normal…and according to their projections, we should stay that way…”

What they don’t get is that there’s a very clear reason this kind of event has become so much more likely than it used to be. It’s not going to happen every year or even most years, but it will happen far more often than it used to. The very first year when it doesn’t, I’ll wager they go into full “I told you so” mode. Full “it’s a hoax” mode, or “there’s nothing we can do about it,” or “the science isn’t settled,” or “burn more natural gas,” or “drill baby drill,” or “economy! jobs! freedom!” mode.

When this kind of thing changes from a once-in-a-thousand-years event to a once-in-twenty-years or once-in-ten-years event, that’s what ruins the economy, destroys jobs, undermines freedom. It costs. Misery, property, income, even human life.

It’s global warming, stupid.


One Response to “2015’s Summer of Fire”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    In a paper published Tuesday in the international journal Nature Communications, a team of researchers concluded that from 1979 to 2013, fire weather seasons have lengthened across 18.39 million square miles of Earth’s vegetated surface, resulting in an 18.7 percent increase in the global average fire season length.

    The global burnable area affected by long fire seasons has doubled in that time, and from 1996 until 2013 there has been a 53.4 percent increase in the frequency of long fire seasons.

    Climate-induced variations in global wildfire danger from 1979 to 2013 : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

    Study finds climate change is increasing length of wildfire seasons across globe – ‘Climate change isn’t a future projection, it actually started around 1980’

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