Best Sources for Current Wildfire Information

Amy Silbernagel McCaffree

Have you ever wondered:

  • Is the campground where I have upcoming reservations still open?
  • Are my favorite trails closed?
  • Which roads are safe for travel?
  • Where is it safe to go camping now?
  • There’s no cell service in the national forest area I plan to visit; there isn’t a wildfire now, but how would I know if one breaks out miles away? What would be the evacuation plan or route?

Finding the most accurate, up-to-date information about regional burn bans, current wildfire conditions, and recreation and travel restrictions can be complicated and confusing. Cross a state boundary, like from Washington to Idaho, and there may be less restrictions—which isn’t always a good thing. (Wondering if an off-road vehicle could spark a fire near your campground can damper the mood.)

For some recreation destinations, the landscape, topography, and availability of access roads can increase the risk of a life-threatening wildfire event for campers and recreation users.

Do you know what you would do if a wildland fire starts down the road from your campground, and that’s the only major road out? Would you be able to quickly pack only your essentials into a vehicle—your people, pets, shoes, food, water, lanterns or flashlights, first-aid kit—and evacuate a campground? Would you be able to leave your tent or RV (if no time to pack or hitch), boat, kayaks, and bikes behind, and flee to safety in time?

Smoke from Noisy Creek Fire at Sullivan Lake, September 2017. // Photo by Amy McCaffree

Local daily broadcast media and print news stories, though helpful, are secondary sources. Some reports may be too general, especially in the beginning of a fire incident, providing basic facts—when, where, who’s involved. Conditions can change quickly. More detailed reports may only be provided when there are road closures, evacuation orders. or when tragedy occurs, especially when it’s a fire event hundreds of miles away or in a different state.

Here’s a round-up of primary sources to find the latest information about current wildland fires; travel and safety information; visitor or service restrictions; and park, campground, and trail closures. Whether you’re at home wondering if your upcoming trip should be postponed or cancelled, or you’ve already arrived at your destination and have cell-service, these are the best sources up-to-date information.

If you’re unsure if there is cell service at your final destination, write down phone numbers and addresses for the nearest ranger station or sheriff’s office so you know where you can get in-person information. If planning to backpack or primitive camp, check-in with a ranger before heading into the wilderness.

Regional Wildfire Agencies & Resources

  • Northwest Interagency Coordination CenterWebsite homepage includes: List of current fires in Washington and Oregon and their individual InciWeb links for more incident information; Daily updates on current wildland fires (listed in alphabetical order according to fire name) and link to Northwest Large Fire Interactive Map.
NWCC homepage, Sept.13, 2020.
  • InciWeb – Incident Information System: NW Regional links include morning briefing, 7-Day Significant Fire Potential, NWCC Fire Information Summary, Fire Map, and Daily Situation Report –
  • Northeast Washington Interagency Communications Center: Regional fire activity on public lands in NE Washington that are managed by Bureau of Land Management, Colville National Forest, US Fish and Wildlife, and Northeast Region Washington State Department of Natural Resources:
  • National Weather Service: Fire Weather
  • Northwest Fire Science Consortium: A more logistical and technical resource geared towards firefighting agencies; homepage includes a list of incident information for the latest wildland fires in Washington and Oregon.
  • Wildfire Today: News about recent fires.

Regional State Agencies

Public Information Flier from Oregon State Fire Marshall

Public Land Closures & Travel Restrictions

State Parks & Public Lands

National Forests – Northwest (alert webpages)

National Park Service

Scenic Trails

Learn More:

Image: U.S. Forest Service

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