Abandoned, illegal campfire blamed for fatal Soberanes wildfire

An abandoned, illegal campfire sparked the Soberanes wildfire in California that has scorched more than 67-square miles of Monterey County and killed one person, state fire officials announced Tuesday.

The campfire was about 2-feet by 2-feet and burning away from official hiking trails and campsites when it triggered the larger blaze a few miles east of Highway 1 north of Soberanes Creek Trail July 22, an investigator with CAL FIRE said. 

Authorities are still searching for the person or persons who started the campfire.

Wildfires Heat Up Across the West

Homes evacuated. Buildings destroyed. Thousands of acres scorched. The peak of the fire season is yet to come, and it’s only being made worse by climate change.

The wildfires blazing in California, Alaska and across the Southwest are threatening communities and natural resources. In Alaska, the first wildfire this season started in late February, yet the season typically begins in April or May. 

Wildlife Returning After Fort McMurray Wildfire

Standing in a burned-out bog near Fort McMurray, Canada, University of Alberta (U of A) researcher Hedwig Lankau is surrounded by small signs of life.

The damp bog is one of her favorite places to explore, after a wildfire changes its ecosystem.

"I find that after the fire it's different, but it's beautiful and it represents that new beginning," Lankau says.

Researchers were already studying the forests around Fort McMurray before a massive wildfire tore through in May, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate the city. 

Announcing the 2016 Smokey Bear Award Winners

Along with its partners at the USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council, NASF is pleased to announce the 2016 National Smokey Bear Awards winners.

Since 1957, this prestigious awards program has recognized organizations and individuals for outstanding service to prevent wildfires. The awardees have demonstrated significant impact at the national level (Gold), multi-state level (Silver), and statewide level (Bronze). These awards remind us of the hard work that all Americans can do to reduce the threat of human­ caused wildfires.

Study about Historical Fire Records Can Inform Forest Management Decisions

University of Missouri researchers have studied tree rings in Oklahoma and Tennessee to determine the areas’ history of fires. Understanding how fire has maintained forest ecosystems in the past makes it possible to determine the best ways to use fire to maintain those forests in the future.

Michael Stambaugh, the study’s lead author, says “the history of fire in America also is the history of humans on this continent. … [E]verywhere we see humans move, we see fires follow or be altered.”

Congress debates the future of wildfire funding and forest management

As wildfires burn in the West, debate on wildfire suppression funding has heated up in the nation’s capital. Even though the portion of the US Forest Service budget dedicated to fire suppression has been increasing steadily, these funds are routinely exhausted before the fire season ends. As such, the Forest Service must borrow from its other programs to fight fires, such as those meant to actively manage forests and prevent future fires.

Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance

The inaugural Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance runs June 30-July 6 and is dedicated to all those who have fallen in the line of duty. This awareness week serves as an opportunity to renew our commitment to the health, wellness and safety of wildland firefighters.

Over many decades, lessons learned from accidents and fatalities that have occurred on wildland fires have led to significant improvements in firefighter education, training, operational practices, and risk management processes. Unfortunately, wildland firefighting remains inherently hazardous.