Wildfires Burn at Biggest Rate Since 2011 While Harvey Victims Assess Damage

Sep 8, 2017  | 3 min  | Ep4303

While Florida and the Deep South prepare for Irma’s wrath, she’s already whipped across the Caribbean leaving death and destruction in her wake. However, this isn’t the only disaster facing the lower-48. Paul Yeager has the details.

Wildfires chewed through homes in the West this week. In Oregon, the fire is tearing through the state’s identity of treasured resources. Several recreational areas were scarred in the Columbia Gorge. The National Scenic area attracts more than 3 million people each year. Much of the state is under a smoky haze as a heat wave makes battling the blaze even more challenging.

Earlier this week, in the Willamette National Forest alone, 16 fires covering 45-thousand acres were burning. This wildfire in Madera County, California started last weekend, quickly charred more than 600 acres. Another 200 structures in the area were threatened. Scattered storms are forecast to offer some relief to crews in Washington, Idaho and western Montana.

The National Interagency Fire Center reports 76 active fires in 9 states with the largest number of blazes in Oregon, Montana and California. Year-to-date statistics reveal more than 47,000 fires have burned through nearly 8 million acres -- the most damage since 2011.

Meanwhile, cleanup is in full swing following Hurricane Harvey. Damage assessments at much of the region’s petrochemical industry revealed compromised Superfund sites. The Environmental Protection Agency-designates locations that are the most intensely contaminated. Seven of the twelve sites in the Houston metro area were inundated with water last week raising concerns that floodwaters may wash in pollution. The EPA did confirm only a few locations in Texas had significant damage.

Cattle ranchers spent much of week rounding up herds displaced by Harvey. 1.2 million beef cattle are in the 58 counties declared state disaster area’s following the storm. Southwest of Houston in Wharton County, Texas, the land where 60,000 cattle usually graze was filled with water. The animals found safe locations for survival.

Coleman Locke, Texas Cattle Farmer: “I know my son has been out there in the water for two days at least waist-deep working, trying to either move cows to higher ground or get hay to them and see that they’re OK.”

John Locke, Texas Cattle Farmer: “We’re on a larger area. We’re dealing with ground that doesn’t support equipment and doesn’t support horses. So, we’re going to try to get this hay out there. I have got about three different ideas of, OK, if this doesn’t work, we are going to do this, and if this doesn’t work, we’re going to do this.”

For Market to Market, I’m Paul Yeager.

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