Wildfires are a perennial problem in the Northwest. With miles and miles of wilderness, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington get more than their fair share of major forest fires. Lightning ignites most of these fires, but not all. Poorly-attended campfires, train and machinery sparks, and tossed cigarette butts cause no end of problems during the Northwest's dry summer season. Once started, fires are subject to the whims of wind and weather.
Finding Current Wildfire Information
Major forest fires always affect regional travel and recreation in the Northwest. Uncontained fires block access to the surrounding area. The reduced visibility and air pollution that result from an active fire can range from inconvenient to life-threatening. Even the risk of fire has an impact; campfires, barbecue grills, and firewood cutting are usually limited or prohibited during the dry summer months.
It's always wise to check on the latest fire situation before embarking on a Northwest wilderness trip. These resources will keep you informed of current wildfire activity in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and other Western states.
- National Fire News
A listing of all the major wildfires in the U.S., including description, number of acres, and containment.
- National Interagency Coordination Center
Get current and archived reports with detailed fire status - updated daily.
- Idaho Fire Updates
Current news, links to local and regional Idaho wildfire resources, and fire-related stories.
- Montana Current Fire & Drought News
A listing and overview of current fires in Montana forests, with links to more detailed fire reports that include fire type, acres involved, and planned actions.
The following resources provide additional information about current forest fires and conditions in the Northwestern US.
Social media is another good way to keep current on wildfire activities throughout the Northwest.
The last thing you want is to be the cause of a wildfire. Keeping informed about the latest Northwest fire restrictions will save you from a possible fine or imprisonment. It will let you know if you need to avoid campfires or fireworks. And it will save lives, including your own.
- Idaho Fire Restrictions Map
- Montana Fire Restrictions and Burn Bans
- National Forests in Oregon and Washington (go to individual forest sites for specific restrictions)
- Oregon Department of Forestry
- Washington State Department of Natural Resources
Responsible Northwest Fire Fighting Agencies
There are many agencies and organizations that play a role in fighting wildfires in the Northwest. The following sites provide extensive information about all aspects of wildland fire disasters.
- Forest Service Fire & Aviation Management
- National Interagency Fire Center
- National Park Service Fire & Aviation Management
- Northern Rockies Coordinating Group
If You're Caught in a Wildfire
In the event of a fire in your area, it is important to stay tuned to local radio broadcasts. Prepare for evacuation at a moment's notice by gathering your disaster supplies, corralling your pets, and removing any obstacles to a rapid escape. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, non-flammable clothing, a hat, and gloves. Anticipate that the electrical power will go down.
If the worst happens, and you find yourself trapped in the path of a raging wildfire, the information at these websites may save your life.