News Headlines     |     


Monday July 30, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Some ski resorts are under threat and others are covered in smoke as fires rage. PlanetSKI reports from Whistler, Canada. UPDATED


PlanetSKI is in Whistler in British Columbia, Canada for the biking events.

The finals of the Crankworx World Tour 2018 are taking place in the madly popular ski resort.

The display of the sport is truly insane, though the days are shrouded in smoke from nearby wildfires blowing in from Washington state:

Crankworx in WhistlerCrankworx in Whistler

Sepia world in Whistler during CrankworxSepia world in Whistler during Crankworx

Wildfire haze is particularly bad right now and it's a sepia world out there.

The sun barely shines through and the air is thick from fires further south.

Mt Seymour Vancouver B.CMt Seymour Vancouver B.C. haze

Vancouver sunVancouver sun

Currently in America there are 93 fires burning more than 50,000 acres across 10 states.

So far this year, 5.7 million acres have burned and eleven firefighters have lost their lives battling blazes.


Yosemite National Park in California is once again open after weeks of being closed due to wildfire.

Firefighters have successfully contained the fire to re-opened Highway 120.  Highway 140 will re-open today and those buildings evacuated along both roads for near to a month will re-open.

The Ferguson Fire is reported to be 86% contained.

The fire has roared through 150 square miles of forest and brush since it ignited on 13th July. It's the largest ever fire in the Sierra National Forest.

Two firefighters died battling the blaze.

Caution is still advised for drivers travelling through as firefighters are still working in the area.


The destuctive wildfires raging in the US have led to many evacuations and some lives lost.

Firefighters are spread thin and are doing heroic work as they battle flames and work to contain the numerous fires through the States.

The effects of smoke are seen in surrounding states and in Canada.
Here's a look at how far it spreads.

During the day, the sky is dull and often - depending on the wind - it's hard to see blue sky, even if above.

But sunrise and sunset the colours change when the sun is low...

InstagramFrom Whistler, BC Canada

InstagramIdaho Sawtooth Mountains @rvfever

InstagramPasco Washington state @addtc3n1


The Miriam Fire burning forest in the White Pass Ski Area in Washington State is only 10% contained, as of Monday morning.

The fire started on 30th July from lightning.

It was thought the weekend weather would benefit the firefighters battling to contain the fire, which has burned more than 2,200 acres of forest.

"It was cool and moist yesterday and rained overnight on the entire fire area," fire officials said in a Sunday news release.

The rain allowed the firefighters to work on containment lines and the fire has not grown in size.

However, dryer, warmer weather is expected in the coming days.

Yakimi Valley Office of Emergency Management photoInciweb image

Fire officials have predicted full containment by 1st September.

Meanwhile the mountain resort and surrounding area is on level 1 alert - which is "be ready" for evacuation.

Camping is still a level 3 in the area, though. A no go.

Here's an update of the Miriam Fire from the expert firefighters themselves:

A look at the Miriam Fire on Day 2:

Miriam Fire Day 2Miriam Fire Day 2

Washington state has firefighters spread thin.

On Saturday 68 new fires were detected, primarily in the eastern part of the state.

Lightning, strong winds and very dry fuels make fire conditions critical.

The state currently has 18 fires with varying levels of evacuations in effect.

Meanwhile California's biggest ever wildfire is burning on.

The Ranch Fire has now burned nearly 300,000 acres.

256 fire engines, 58 fire crews, 20 helicopters, 76 dozers, 79 water tenders, which is a total of 3,221 personnel, are fighting the complex Ranch Fire.

Fire crews protect Pillsbury Lake from Ranch Fire on 12th August:

Dave Mills US Forest ServiceDave Mills US Forest Service 12th August image


Take a look at this footage from inside a firetruck on the front lines fighting wildfire in the United States.

Carr fire has burned 283,800 acres 🙏🏻 #hoodratchetness#california

A post shared by Hoodratchetness (@hoodratchetness) on Aug 7, 2018 at 11:25am PDT

... As we give the biggest kudos to these firefighters, pilots & everyone battling the blazes.

Fire seasons are becoming longer and more intense and this year fire has wrought havoc on communities and ecosystems.

@Pedromcbride Instagram image @NatGeo@pedromcbride Instagram image

It's been a busy fire season with drought and extreme heat throughout the USA.

California is still suffering hardest from devastating wildfires that are raging through the state.

The Carr Fire, last week named one of the most dangerous and damaging fires in state history, took the lives of seven.

It is now 45% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Now the Mendocino Complex Fire - made up of 2 fires - is the second biggest in the state's history, burning 273,664 acres.

Monday it is reported 30% contained, having burned 75 residences.

Noah Berger image AFPNoah Berger image AFP

The Ferguson Fire further south in California that has burned for 3 weeks has led to the indefinite closure of the mega popular Yosemite National Park.

As firefighters are stretched thin across the west, specialist crews made up of 146 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand have been brought in to assist.

Meanwhile, other wildfires in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho continue to burn vast swaths of land.

The Sharps fire near Bellevue and Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho, spread on Saturday due to the wind, moving it into rugged terrain - which means it's harder to fight.

It covered about 100 square miles and Monday is reported 57% contained - The fire is expected to stay active this week as warm weather and dry air comes in.

The man who started the fire gave his own name to the police and awaits charge.

In the USA it is hard to say what the punishment for causing such wildfire can be.

A prison sentence on top of paying for the entire efforts to fight the fire, as well as for any damage caused to property, is not out of the question.

It could cost tens of millions.

The fire continues to grow into the Sawtooth National Forest toward Swede Peak and Morman Hill.

A pair of wildfires burning in Washington state's Twisp River Valley have now claimed more than 7,700 acres on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Many ski areas sit in this national forest:

The many ski areas arund the Washongton state Twisp firesThe many ski areas around the Washington state Twisp fires

Both were started by lightning on the morning of 29th July.

There are 220 personnel working to control the fire on the Crescent Mountain side.

Noah Berger image AFPNoah Berger image AFP


More than a dozen are blazing in California alone, the Carr Fire being one which is rated one of CA's worst in history.

There are blazes in the ski states of Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Washington.

marcus kauffmanWildfire plagues US states

Here in the Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho the smoke from a nearby Bellevue fire has made the air thick and very dark.

It feels like a sepia world down in resort.

The Sharps Fire is less than 20 miles from Sun Valley and moved north to the Sawtooth National Forest.

Firefighters have been building firelines and securing the south end of the fire and it's reported to be 21% contained.

A thunderstorm on Wednesday aided visibility for a short while, but it's back to a dull, moody day with the direct light blocked from the smoke.

The Sharps Fire has been burning for 3 days and has exceeded 50,000 acres.

Firefighters are struggling against shifting winds, low humidity, high temperatures and steep, remote terrain.

Idaho Mountain Express imageSharps Fire, Idaho

Other ski resorts have fires nearby with smoke affecting them and the situation is being closely monitored.

Mountain towns have been turned to ghost towns as people flee the fire and danger.

It is spiralling out of control near Mt Shasta and Mt Lassen, both very popular for outdoor activities - skiing during the winter and camping and hiking in summer.

Over 110,000 acres have been burning in California and 12,000 people are reported to be fighting fires in the state. 

The Carr Fire jumped the Sacramento River to hit Redding, and has caused destruction across Shasta County in Northern CA.

966 structures have been destroyed with more damaged in the wildfire that was started by a vehicle failure.

So strong are the fires that 'firenadoes' were created - a scientific phenomenon of towering spirals of fire.

'Firenados' can pick up burning embers, ash and debris and can rise up hundreds or thousands of feet in the air.

The embers can spread, jumping fire lines, and create new fires.

From Friday, within 24 hours the fire doubled in size, from 40,000 acres to 80,000.

On the weekend it was burning at a terrifying rate: equivalent to a football pitch burning every 3 seconds.

Smoke from these wildfires stretched to Oklahoma at the centre of the States.

It has claimed the lives of at least 8, with more people still missing.

As of Tuesday, 31st July morning it was just 27% contained.

More than 300 miles south, the 57,846-acre Ferguson Fire prompted Yosemite National Park to close last week.

It's the first time in 20 years.

Tourists were told to evacuate the massively popular destination for hiking, biking, camping and yoga (it has a ski area during winter months) by 25th July.

The smoke was so thick it obscured whole rock faces and waterfalls.

This fire has been burning since 13th July in the western Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite remains closed until 3rd August.

Four fighters have had their lives taken by the California wildfires in the past fortnight.

Ferguson Fire image FacebookFerguson Fire burning in Sierra Nevada mountains

The states suffering from large fires (and the number of fires):
  • Alaska (15)
  • Arizona (10)
  • California (8)
  • Colorado (13)
  • Florida (1)
  • Idaho (9)
  • Montana (3)
  • Nevada (5)
  • New Mexico (3)
  • Oregon (16)
  • Texas (1)
  • Utah (6)
  • Washington (4)
  • Wyoming (4)

As we can expect, the ski states with high mountains for snow and winter activities are also those which experience the very opposite weather in summer months, the climate that unfortunately sees much wildfire.

Especially after such a poor season for snowfall.

In June Colorado's popular ski towns were evacuated. Silverthorne, 60 miles west of Denver was evacuated and Keystone was under threat from a blaze.

PlanetSKI's news reporter is currently in Idaho where the smoke in the air has been growing stronger from the fires in the West for a week.

"At the top of the ski mountain 'Baldie' in Idaho's Sun Valley yesterday [29th July] you could really tell how much smoke was in the air," Katie reports from Ketchum.

Looking south from Bald MountainLooking south from Bald Mountain

Smoke in the air changes the colour of the sky at sunset and sunrise.

Looking north over the Sawtooth MountainsLooking north over the Sawtooth Mountains

"From in the valley, and to an untrained eye, it seems hazy I assumed from the heat.

"But locals I spoke to at the top of the mountain at 2,800 we explaining they could feel it in their throats when they woke up this morning.

"Visibility is noticeably worse when you're up here - usually you can see east to the Pioneer mountains.

"I've been advised to close windows today, Monday, as the air has been at its thickest yet, with the air blowing form the west in Washongton and Oregon/California."

A more local fire has been reported on 30th adding to the poor air quality just 20 miles south of Sun Valley in Bellevue.

It was set off by a man shooting at explosive targets.

Bellevue Wildfire imageBellevue Wildfire image

Resort towns often mean that homes are tightly packed together as there's only so much available space of land suitable to build on.

It's a real worry for any inhabited area to be in the path of such dangerous fires the country has experienced this month.

The 416 Fire north of Durango in southwest Colorado has burned since 1st June.

It's burning in the Four Corners region where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet that is at the center of a large patch of exceptional drought.

This fire has been less active for about a week, though many more in the region continue to grow.

 A fire retardant aircraft flies over a wild fire in the Wildernest neighborhood near Silverthorne, Colo., on Tuesday.

Colorado WildfireColorado Wildfire - Hugh Carey Summit Daily News

Large fire activity continues across most of the West, Florida and Alaska, where 98 large fires have burned 1.2 million acres.

Unfortunately this is only the start of fire season.

October is considered the most dangerous for fast-moving and dangerous fire.

Is this what we must expect, from the dryer weather and extreme heat that seems to rise year-on-year in summer, at least over the past decade?

Many questions, worries and issues come to mind when we hear this news:

Climate change, our own education and diligence while in these dry areas, attention and funding.

Read here for our earlier summer piece:

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

Related Articles

PLANETSKI GOES GREEN (Monday September 23, 2019)
AUSTRIA GLACIER RESORTS OPEN... THEN SHUT (Wednesday September 18, 2019)
FIRST SNOW FALLS IN USA (Wednesday September 18, 2019)
SEASON EXTENDED IN OZ SKI RESORTS (Monday September 16, 2019)

With thanks to our main sponsors...

Platinum partners

Bronze partners