The hazy days of summer
Graphic showing smoke patterns due to wildfires across the western United States. NOAA graphic.
Murky skies due to drift-in smoke from area wildfires
September 7, 2006
If you’re wondering where all the smoke has been coming from these past couple of days, the graphic with this story will help explain it. Numerous large fires in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and northern California are all putting up a lot of smoke that is wrapping around and blowing into our area. If it is any consolation, we have it better than a lot of other places in the west that are getting the full brunt of the combined smoke from all these wildfires.
There currently are 62 active large fires burning across the United States. Idaho has 18, Montana and California each have 7, Oregon and Washington each have 10, Nevada has 6, Utah has 2 and Wyoming has 3.
The highest fire fighting priority in the US right now is the Derby Mountain fire which is burning in south-central Montana approximately 15 miles south of Big Timber. This fire is more than 300 square miles and has destroyed 26 homes and 20 other structures. It has forced the evacuation of more than 245 homes. It grew from 185,000 to more than 191,000 acres in size today and is 45% contained. Not only do weary firefighters have their hands full with this blaze, they are plagued with another threat on the fire: bees. Bee stings among firefighters have surged to as many as 50 a day, according to fire reports. Smoke from this fire and others have triggered air-quality warnings in southwestern Montana. The Department of Environmental Quality said the air in Bozeman and in the area of the fires was "very unhealthy."
This year’s fire season is the biggest in the past seven years for acreage burned, according to fire statistics. United States firefighters have been joined by crews from New Zealand and Australia which are providing 92 fire specialists and managers to assist with suppression operations. Canada is providing four 20-person crews and 59 fire specialists and managers to help United States firefighting efforts.
In Wyoming, large fires include the Purdy and Battle Mountain fires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) and the Stinky fire in Yellowstone National Park. Fire danger is rated as Extreme on the BTNF with campfire restrictions in place. Hunters and outdoor recreationists are urged to be very careful with any fires they build. Campfires are allowed in developed campgrounds only.
The USFS Pinedale Ranger District, Bridger-Teton National Forest, contributed to this story.
NIFC Daily Fire Report
Large Fire Map
NOAA Satellite Fire Detections