If it seems like I keep writing about fires, it’s because this has been an historic year for wildfires. While it’s been bad here, I’m glad we aren’t in the Okanogans (which are west and a little north of us.) The Okanogan Complex is, as of this writing, twice the size of Seattle and has done untold damage to the region. My heart goes out to everyone affected there.
Meanwhile, out here, the fires are in the process of being contained due to the heroic efforts of fire crews, who have been working round the clock to protect lives, home, and livelihoods. Anything could change at a moment’s notice, though, so I thought I’d provide some resources that I’ve used to track fires.
The first one, ironically, is Facebook. Stevens County Fire District No. 1 provides excellent real-time news of the fires closest to us, and, (unlike other Facebook pages,) does a great job in cleaning up rumors and false information. One of the strangest things I’ve learned throughout fire season is that people love to spread misinformation. I guess this is partly because 1) it draws attention to themselves and 2) some folks like to worry for the sake of worrying. So bad info can get disseminated quickly and a lot of people can get ready to evacuate as a result — but you can be sure that the info you get from Stevens County Fire District No. 1 is accurate.
The second resource I’d recommend is InciWeb. A little slow on updating, but always thorough and accurate. Plus, they’re covering all the fires from a tri-state region, so you can always get a good idea of where the smoke is coming from.
Speaking of smoke, WASmoke has been very accurate at pinpointing smoke plumes and predicting where they’ll go. Plus, I love that a government agency uses Blogspot like a commoner.
For a good overall round-up, the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center provides a lot of good resources, as well as info for what to do before, during, and after the fire.
And finally, it’s important to leave with some information about how to prepare for a fire. Readyforwildfire.org is provided by CalFire and covers all the phases of preparedness, including how to make your home defensible, how to create an emergency kit and a family communication plan, and what to do after the flames are put out. There are lots of other resources out there, but this one has everything in one place so I linked to it.
I hope you and your family never have to deal with wildfire threats, but realistically, with extended drought throughout the west coast, you probably will. So I hope these resources are useful to you.