Tree Frog Forestry News

Daily Archives: July 17, 2015

Business & Politics

Mill employee disciplined for raising dust concerns, inquest hears

Prince George Citizen
July 16, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Babine Forest Products management reprimanded an employee after he posted a letter on a bulletin board raising concern about air quality in the sawmill, a coroner’s inquest heard Thursday. George George wrote the letter on Dec. 16, 2009, slightly more than two years before the Jan. 20, 2012 explosion that destroyed the mill and killed two co-workers: Robert Luggi, 45, and Carl Charlie, 42. A millwright, George usually worked the weekend maintenance shift, when the mill did not process any lumber, but was on a weekday production shift that day.

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Southcoast Reman lumber mill in Maple Ridge catches fire

The fire started a little after 4 a.m. at the Southcoast Reman lumber mill
CBC News
July 17, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fire crews in Maple Ridge, B.C., have a knocked down an early morning fire at the Southcoast Reman lumber mill. The fire began Friday just after 4 a.m. at the facility at 23347 McKay Ave. Flames, sparks and smoke could be seen spitting out of a conveyor belt leading to the dust collection equipment. Maple Ridge firefighters used a ladder-mounted hose to extinguish most of the flames from above. RCMP confirmed that nobody was at the mill when the fire started, as the facility was shut down for the night. The operators say it will be closed for at least a day, starting Friday.

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Mill air charged with static electricity on day of explosion, worker tells inquest

Prince George Citizen
July 16, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The air inside a Burns Lake sawmill was so filled with static electricity on the day it was destroyed that hair was seen standing on end, a survivor of the blast told a coroner’s inquest into the fatal explosion on Thursday. Jim Weselowski, a cant saw operator, said he was helping a co-worker change a bandsaw when he noticed the phenomenon. “The hair on our arms was standing straight up,” Weselowski said. “You could feel the hair on your head, your arms and your legs. There was a lot of static electricity for some reason.” In the 30 years he had worked at Babine, its was a first for Weselowski.

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Pictou Landing takes mill permit to top court

Chronicle Herald
July 16, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

Pictou Landing First Nation is taking its Northern Pulp appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Earlier this year, the Environment Department issued an industrial permit for Northern Pulp that calls for the Pictou County mill to reduce its environmental footprint and close its Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility, which is located on First Nations land, by 2020. Pictou Landing First Nation appealed the decision, saying the terms of the industrial approval weren’t strict enough. But Environment Minister Randy Delorey denied the appeal, saying “consultation took place” and “accommodations were made with Pictou Landing First Nation by imposing several terms and conditions in the industrial approval.”

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OFIA Says Forest Sector Is Turning Around

CKDR.net
July 16, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

The Ontario Forest Industries Association is calling it a revival of the forestry industry. Jamie Lim says recent investments in Dryden and Kenora are signs the sector is turning around. Lim says they went through a long, dark period in their history and she hopes it’s one they never repeat. She notes there are a number of mills across the region that are back in production and that speaks volumes about the demand for Ontario’s lumber products. Lim says the forest industry has had to re-invent itself after the recession, which had a devastating impact on mills across the region.

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Shares of Weyerhaeuser Company Sees Large Outflow of Money

American Trade Journal
July 16, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

During the most recent session, the shares traded at 0.05 points or 0.16% higher at $31.31. The money flow data is unimpressive with the net money flow value of $(-0.51) million. As per the intraday data, the upticks measured $0.26 million and the downticks measured $0.77 million. As a result, the up/down ratio registered a value of 0.34. The shares have seen 0.06% price change for the week.A block trade also made an entry with $0 million flowing in through upticks while $0.58 million flew out through downticks. The block tradeoff had the up/down ratio of 0. The net money flow for this big transaction was $(-0.58) million.

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Suwannee Lumber Bark moves in

Suwannee Democrat
July 16, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Suwannee Lumber Company LLC has set up shop on 20 acres in Northwestern Suwannee County with a new pine mulch operation, Suwannee Lumber Bark. The company comes with a $2 million capital investment and an initial two to four new jobs with average annual salaries of $45,000, according to Suwannee Lumber Vice President Brian Faircloth. “Suwannee Lumber Company has always been a growth oriented company,” said Faircloth. “We will be bringing jobs and growth to Suwannee County for many years to follow.”

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Pulp life: the mill worker staying optimistic

The Age
July 17, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Darrin Canning has been working full-time as a maintenance worker at Australian Paper’s Maryville Mill, in Morwell, for the past five years. He keeps a wary eye on the financial challenges faced by his employers, but he’s been feeling optimistic about the company’s future since the Nippon buy-out. “Workers know they have got to make changes and evolve, but overall people are still feeling secure in their role. While you’re at work you are just trying to do what you can to get the job done. But out in the community we are always trying to get people on board with buying Australian made paper.

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Victorian native forest timber offered at discount price to Japanese mill

The Age Australia
July 17, 2015
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Victoria’s native timber was offered to a Japanese-owned paper mill at a discounted fixed price as part of a secret government deal to end a protracted multimillion-dollar dispute over unpaid debts. A Department of Treasury briefing obtained by Fairfax Media reveals Gippsland-based Australian Paper – the state’s largest wood customer – failed to hand over $10 million that VicForests said it was owed. In a significant concession to settle the stoush – which was described by one well-placed industry source as “an exercise in corporate socialism” – former agriculture minister Peter Walsh agreed fix the price for the mill.

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Wood, Paper & Green Building

Wood that wows: Teeple Architects’ Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum

Treehugger
July 16, 2015
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada, Canada West

Wood is the ultimate sustainable building material, and right now there is a lot of it to be used, thanks to the Mountain Pine Beetle. Steven Teeple built the new Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in Alberta, Canada out of big sticks of beetle-kill timber, with as many as six pieces coming together at a single point. …Working with Vancouver, British Columbia–based engineering firm Fast + Epp, the architects used Rhinoceros to model and then deconstruct the nodes into manageable 2D pieces for milling. The largest nodes, at more than 59 inches tall and 94 inches wide, stack together approximately 180 plies. “With computer technology, it was easy to map out each layer and to create the form we were looking for,” Teeple says.

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Wood that wows: Partisan’s Bar Raval is a ravalation

Treehugger
July 16, 2015
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: Canada East, Canada

[Toronot] Bar Raval, designed by Partisans, …is so popular that it is hard to get in, and it just won the AIA R&D award, so I am writing about it now, even though I know it shouldn’t be discussed without being seen and felt. Partisans designed the Grotto Sauna that was perhaps the most talked about bit of design produced last year, and Bar Raval is the talk of Toronto this year. The engineering behind it is as amazing as the architecture. Taking cues from Antoni Gaudí, Partisans hand-sketched drawings and hand-carved foam and clay models to refine the panels’ appearance. Then came the challenge of converting 3D lines into a format that a five-axis CNC router could understand.

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Testing timber

Doggerel
July 14, 2015
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

Around the world, architects, planners, and environmentalists are betting that wooden towers are the future of building design. But in the United States, building codes prohibit their construction. Until the authorities are convinced that timber is safe, would-be wood builders will have to wait — or help with the convincing. Hans-Erik Blomgren, a structural engineer in Arup’s Seattle office, has opted for the latter. In his eight years with Arup, he has explored the potential of wood as a lightweight, affordable, and renewable building material. Now, by designing and testing new methods of timber construction, he’s helping lay the groundwork for the next generation of wooden buildings.

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Cutting carbon: work starts on world’s tallest cross-laminated timber building

July 17, 2015
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: International

The Dalston Lane development in Hackney is to use more than 3,500m3 of the sustainable timber (CLT), making it the largest project of its kind globally, claimed engineers at Ramboll. The 121 units are spread over 10 storeys. The overall height of the building is more than 33 metres. It will provide “significant residential capacity” over 12,500 square metres, and more than 3,400 square metres of commercial space. Ramboll CLT engineer Gavin White told The Engineer that the timber was much less heavy than concrete, making it ideal for lightweight construction in an area of east London where Crossrail and HS1 passed underneath the streets.

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Forestry

Preserving heritage trees in Port Coquitlam

Interest in creating a heritage tree registry in PoCo grows
Tri-City News
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

A cherry tree that is probably older than many homes in Port Coquitlam could be one of the first to be officially recognized if there is enough community interest in starting a heritage tree registry. Shay and Geoff Moyer, who have lived in their Robertson Avenue home for nearly 20 years, enjoy their backyard tree and the wildlife it shelters. But they also believe their 100-year-old tree has special health-giving powers.

It was a symbol of hope while they nursed themselves back to health
after two serious operations, the couple says.

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Clear-cut objectors create forum

Powell River Peak
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

All seems to have fallen quiet in the battle for Powell River’s urban forest, Lot 450. At last word, Island Timberlands wrapped up the harvest of its private managed forest lands after community pressure ramped up on the company to halt logging during bird-nesting season. …In fact, protestors who have been watching for any logging activity in the area said that since their blockade of logging equipment at the end of May the forest company has not returned. …Powell River Forest Coalition, the citizens’ group which has organized opposition to the forest company’s timber practices, together with Powell River Voices, Sierra Club Malaspina and the Council of Canadians, are hosting a community forum to explore alternatives to clear-cutting the lot.

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Emerald Ash Borers headed for Muskoka forest

Detection traps to be set on Monday
Muskoka Region
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada East, Canada

BRACEBRIDGE – The Emerald Ash Borer is headed to the Muskoka Forest accroding to the Muskoka Conservancy. They’re already in Barrie and it’s only a matter of time until they get here. On Monday, July 20 at 9 a.m. in front of the Visitor Information Centre (Bird’s Mill) in Bracebridge, the Muskoka Conservancy, along with BioForest Technologies, will install a trap for detection of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Mayor Graydon Smith will be present on behalf of Bracebridge. Significant outbreaks of the metallic green EAB are reported in Barrie area this year and it is quickly moving toward the Muskoka forest. The Conservancy and BioForest are concerned and are partnering to raise
awareness.

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Forest Service approves Como Forest Health Project timber sale

Ravalli Republic
July 15, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Bitterroot National Forest moved forward this week on the last two projects to reduce hazardous fuels in the urban/wildland interface along nearly all of the western edge of the Bitterroot Valley. Forest Supervisor Julie King approved the Como Forest Health Project that authorized the forest to move forward with plans to thin about 2,254 acres between Lake Como and Lost Horse Canyon. Plans call for opening bids for the sale sometime in September with hopes that work would get started as early as this fall or winter. 

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Parrish-sponsored initiative moves forward

Legislature passed bill to provide $400K for new program
WestLinn Tidings
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

More than a year after State Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) introduced her urban forest and lumber co-op program at a West Linn City Council meeting, the Oregon State Legislature officially passed a bill July 3 to authorize the pilot program. House Bill 2984, which passed with 82 “yes” votes compared to just five “no” votes, is now awaiting a signature at Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s desk. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the bill will officially become law on Aug. 17. Designed as a bipartisan effort between Parrish, Portland-based landscape contractor David Barmon and Clackamas County Forest Manager Rick Gruen, the bill requires Clackamas County to plant hardwood trees on non-forest land and eventually utilize the trees as commercial products.

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Timber’s sins just as bad as those it projects on growers

Times-Standard
July 15, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Forests are important to California, according to a recent “My Word” (“Pot on TPZ land an invitation to disaster,” Times-Standard, July 7, Page A4) co-written by Environmental Protection Information Center Executive Director, Natalynne DeLapp and Humboldt Redwood Company President Mike Jani. DeLapp and Jani have teamed together as self-described “strange bedfellows” to protect timber’s exclusive TPZ tax breaks and industry-friendly regulations. The issue for these bedfellows was the idea of growers being allowed to grow on Timber Protection Zone (TPZ) lands designated for timber management as “the highest and best use of the land.”

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Forester explains why clear cutting may actually benefit Humboldt land

Standard Speaker
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West


Stumps and saplings pointed out by forester Paul Kowalczyk illustrated why he recommended clear cutting a wood plot near the Humboldt Reservoir. Some oak saplings sprung up since the harvest this winter, yet no new shoots grew around the oak stumps, an indication that they died before being cut. After the Hazleton City Authority authorized the clearcut on Kowalczyk’s recommendation, Frank Skokoski, a former mayor of West Hazleton, said he felt like the forest that he visited his whole life had been destroyed.

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Bill to allow harvesting in federal forests passes House

Eugene Weekly
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

As fire season heats up in Oregon and across the West, debates over logging and forestry are staying hot in Congress. The House just passed HR 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, and Congressman Peter DeFazio is one of the Democrats who voted in favor of the bill. HR 2647 deals with forest management, logging, firefighting and other issues on federal public lands. In his floor speech, DeFazio said he didn’t see the bill as “perfect,” but he tells EW that “you can choose between doing nothing and moving forward with something that has some good provisions and some that are not good.”

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Daines is pushing logging on federal lands

Letter by Sara Johnson, Three Forks
Helena Independent Record
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Politicians frequently do favors for their friends, and Senator Daines is no exception. He recently visited the Ten Mile drainage with various logging supporters to encourage a massive clearcutting program. These projects cost the taxpayer an average of $1,400 per acre logged. In return, we get reduced summer water for fish and irrigators, more elk fleeing to private lands in the hunting season, yet more uncontrolled weed infestations, and less wildlife, including songbirds, hawks and owls that are Montana Species of Concern. 

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Oregon timber harvest down slightly

Associated Press in Herald and News
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

PORTLAND (AP) — Oregon’s timber harvest decreased slightly last year, ending a four-year run of gains that began after the Great Recession, the state Department of Forestry said Wednesday. The 4.13 billion board feet harvested in 2014 represents a 1.7 percent decline from the year before. It was, however, the second consecutive year of more than 4 billion board feet, a total Oregon had not seen since 2006. The state hit a recession low of 2.7 billion board feet in 2009. It takes 10,000 board feet to build a roughly 1,800-square-foot house. 

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EPA accused of ‘environmental vandalism’ over logging reforms

ABC News Australia
July 17, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: International

Conservationists claim the State Government is trying to re-zone 143 thousand hectares of native forest on the north coast for intensive clear-fell logging. The North East Forest Alliance says it has lost confidence in the Environment Protection Authority, claiming the EPA is allowing ‘environmental vandalism’. The EPA is trialling new environmental regulations around logging in parts of the lower north-east region, aimed at merging four ‘Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals’ into one. NEFA Spokesman Dailan Pugh says the changes amount to a major intensification of logging in native forests.

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Collaboration is key when dealing with the forest

The forests hold many keys to a more sustainable society. Cross-disciplinary education and collaboration are essential to address the complex issues forest management brings about.
Stockholm University
July 16, 2015
Category: Forestry
Region: International

…”Species diversity in tree factories is low. It is more an industry where wood is the product. However, natural forests provide us with innumerable services. For example water purification, water cycling, cultural values, provision, and recreational services. The provision of these services is limited in tree production areas”, said Lucas Dawson. “Many of the challenges that are facing us now are social. The biggest challenge is to introduce a long term perspective into decision making for a sustainable future”, Lucas Dawson continued.

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Forest Fires

Low snow pack concerning

Prince George Citizen
July 15, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The obvious lack of rain is prompting the immediate problems with wildfires around B.C. But a longer-term issue is the lack of snow. There are some startling numbers in the last regular snowpack bulletin from mid-June that show how bad last winter was when it comes to lack of snow. It was obviously a disaster for the ski industry in southwestern B.C. But the continuing measurements highlight concerns about potential problems that go well beyond winter recreation. Nine of the 22 snow basins routinely measured by the river forecast centre had zero per cent of the normal accumulation as of last month, meaning there is no snow at all at the measurement stations.

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Economic effects of fires like ‘modest Hurricane Katrina’ (& video)

The Star Phoenix
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The fires raging in northern Saskatchewan could have a major effect on small businesses in the province, one that may persist for years, one expert says. “It’s going to be signifi-cant, far more significant than people realize,” said Greg Poelzer, executive chair of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development. “We’ve seen the smoke come down at times but most people in Saskatchewan haven’t seen the actual size of the devastation of the forest fires up north.” Poelzer anticipates that while the mining sector will be able to recover quickly, industries such as fishing, hunting and forestry could suffer for longer.

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Firefighting spans generations

The StarPhoenix
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fighting fires is in Lyris Bird-LaVallee’s blood. The 36-year-old and her sister Carmella Bird, 35, have fought fires side-byside for 20 years. This year, Lyris’s eldest son Jarvis Laliberte, 17, has joined them in the effort to save their northern Saskatchewan community of Weyakwin. The sisters are following in their late mother’s footsteps, who was also a firefighter. “It’s knowing that I did something good for the public, for the animals, for the land and Mother Nature. It’s very precious to me,” Bird-LaVallee said. The fires near Weyakwin were particularly scary this year, she said, but she wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. 

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B.C. and Saskatchewan want co-ordinated, national approach on wildfires

Canadian Press in Globe and Mail
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The premiers of British Columbia and Saskatchewan would like to see a national approach to fighting forest fires, fearing this year’s wildfires are the new normal. Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall said Thursday he is grateful for the help his province has received from across the country and called for a partnership between the provinces and the federal government to ensure equipment is available where it is needed. …British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said her government budgeted $60-million to fight forest fires this year, but it could be looking at a bill of $300-million to $400-million. 

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Hawaii Mars is ready for action

Alberni Valley News
July 15, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

Alberni Valley skies were filled with a familiar sight and roar this past weak as the Hawaii Mars took flight for the first time in almost two years. The iconic waterbomber flew over the city and dropped water on the Alberni Inlet and Sproat Lake on Friday, ensuring that all systems were ready to go. All it needs now is a call to action—one that’s yet to materialize, according to provincial fire information officer Navi Saini. “It has not flown any missions and it’s really hard to say when it wll be used,” Saini said on Tuesday morning. “It’s another tool in the toolbox in terms of airtanker support.”

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Crews contain Old Sechelt Mine fire

Sunshine Coast Reporter
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The 400-hectare Old Sechelt Mine fire was 90 per cent contained as of Wednesday, July 14, incident commander Reg Trapp said, predicting the fire will be 100 per cent contained by Thursday. “We do feel that we’re on the downhill slide here,” Trapp said. “We will be starting to release resources as appropriate over the next several days and turning this fire back over to the local authorities.” The wildfire started Thursday, July 2, about two kilometres northwest of Sechelt, growing to 250 hectares in size by July 7, then expanding further, mainly due to controlled burns. 

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Dog Mountain: Community unsettled by provincial response after fire not prioritized

Alberni Valley Times
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

While the Dog Mountain forest fire is dying down, frustrations continue to burn throughout the Alberni Valley over how the province responded to the incident. …This initial response did little to suppress the fire, which grew from the early reports of 1.5 hectares on July 4 to a 35-hectare wildfire the following day. Helicopters returned to Dog Mountain over the course of the week, sharing their attention with a fire in the Forbidden Plateau northwest of Comox Lake, but no more air tanker drops occurred.  Ellie Dupont, a fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, said the response to wildfires is dictated by the province’s resource limitations. In the interest of best protecting public safety, other fires had to be prioritized last week above Dog Mountain, she said.

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More evacuees head home in northern Saskatchewan; rain helps fire fight

Canadian Press in Chronicle Journal
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

More evacuees were heading back to their homes in northern Saskatchewan as firefighters gained the upper hand on wildfires threatening some towns and reserves. Evacuation orders were lifted Thursday for several communities including Montreal Lake, Weyakwin and La Loche, a village of about 2,600 people. As well, a government spokeswoman said officials may lift the mandatory evacuation order in the next day or two. More details will be released on Friday morning About 1,000 residents returned Wednesday to other areas, including Pinehouse and Turnor Lake-Birch Narrows. Officials said some residents with medical conditions remained in emergency shelters.

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Cost to fight B.C. wildfires more than doubles

24 Hrs Vancouver
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

While there are fewer wildfires this week than last, an upcoming thunderstorm predicted for early next week following a dry weekend means the fight isn’t over yet. As of Thursday, there are 166 wildfires burning across the province, but thunderstorms next week and a humid, dry weekend threaten that progress, according to the BC Wildfire Service. There were 12 new wildfires in B.C. Wednesday compared to 10 fires the day before, and fire crews have responded to 1,104 fires this year compared to 583 fires at the same time in 2014. Kevin Skrepnek, the service’s chief fire information officer, said the estimated costs so far sit at $122 million and 293,000 hectares of land have been burned.

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Forest fire raging near Parrsboro

Fire spreads this afternoon, now covers 8-10 hectares
Cumberland News Now
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada East, Canada

WHARTON – An otherwise idyllic summer afternoon here is abuzz with activity as firefighters attack a forest fire. Local department of natural resources personnel, five volunteer fire departments, and two helicopters are all on hand to battle the blaze, as black smoke billows into the sky from the dry forest below. Natural resources spokesperson Andrew Preeper reported earlier today that the fire covered about 2-3 hectares of land, but confirmed as of 4:10 p.m. that that had since spread to 8-10 hectares. Further information was unavailable, but a firefighter on the scene reported the call to have come in sometime after 11 a.m. Cause of the blaze was uncertain.

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Anniversary a reminder to take proactive action on wildfire prevention

Congressman Dan Newhouse
Daily Sun News
July 15, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

The threat posed by wildfire has been on the forefront of Washingtonians’ concerns this year for good reason, and Congress is moving forward with legislation to help prevent catastrophic wildfires. This week is the one-year anniversary of the start of the tragic Carlton Complex Fire in Okanogan County. The most destructive in state history, the fire grew rapidly, destroying forests, hundreds of homes and businesses. The fire burned more than a quarter million acres. #I have seen firsthand the lasting environmental and economic damage caused by the fire. Methow Valley communities are still recovering and working hard to rebuild.

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State forest managers lay out plan to reduce risk of wildfires

Fox13Now
July 15, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After catastrophic fires in 2012, Gov. Gary Herbert called on Utah forest managers to come up with a plan to reduce the risk of major wildfires. At the capitol on Tuesday, The Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands took the charge and reported its progress to members of the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee. Brian Cottam, is the director of State Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands. He told lawmakers that thankfully, Utah hasn’t experienced devastating wildfires.

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Dry conditions turn to drought as peak fire season starts in western Montana

The Missoulian
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

HELENA – Dry conditions have turned to drought in western Montana just as the peak wildfire season begins, state drought experts said Thursday. The Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee said above-average temperatures and a dip in precipitation in June have contributed to drought in a year that also saw low snowpack. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designated 15 western Montana counties as natural disaster areas Wednesday because of drought and named nine counties nearby as contiguous disaster areas.

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Lands closed across the state because of fire danger

Longview Daily News
July 16, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: United States, US West

More than a million acres of private timberlands are being temporarily closed to public access in the Inland northwest because of extreme fire danger. Stimson Lumber Company has closed public access to 350,000 acres in northeastern Washington, North Idaho and western Montana because of dry conditions. “To my knowledge, this is the first time that we felt conditions were bad enough we had to close our lands,” said Barry Dexter, company spokesman. Potlatch is closing all of its 791,000 acres in Idaho from the St. Maries area south to the Payette Valley starting Tuesday. “Our concerns are growing as warm weather persists,” said spokesman Mark Benson.

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Forest fire engulfs southern Greece

AP in Global News
July 17, 2015
Category: Forest Fires
Region: International

THENS, Greece – Firefighters battled a large forest fire in southern Greece with water-dropping planes and helicopters Friday, evacuating three villages and sending coast guard boats to rescue scores of people trapped on a beach. Separately, a brush fire broke out on the outskirts of the Greek capital, burning across a hillside and blanketing parts of Athens in thick smoke Friday. The blaze was moving fast, fanned by strong winds and devouring parts of a verdant hillside popular with day-trippers. Thirty firefighters with 10 vehicles and at least one helicopter were battling it, the fire department said.

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