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The Bighorn Fire burning in Ventana Canyon in 2020 as the sun sets.

The U.S. House approved a massive package of bills to address the growing threat of wildfire and drought in the West, including a permanent firefighter pay raise and several water bills - including $500 million to help declining Colorado River Basin reservoirs. Read more»

Starting pay for federal wildland firefighters was $13 an hour until last year, when it was raised to $15 an hour. The Biden administration this week approved steep raises for federal firefighters, which officials called a step in the right direction while adding that more needs to be done. Here, a National Guard soldier fights the High Park wildfire in Larimer County, Colo., in 2012.

Advocates welcomed the announcement this week that pay for federal firefighters will increase by as much as $20,000 this year, what one official called a potentially “life-changing” step for the chronically underpaid crews. Read more»

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva spoke with the press alongside several local government leaders who supported his Environmental Justice for All bill, whicht they say will help Tucson's communities of color impacted by pollution.

A group of public employees said the Biden administration is failing to provide scientific evidence regarding its definition of dangerous forever chemicals leading to more claims that the current definition is too narrow and the EPA is missing some toxins. Read more»

More firefighters appear to be falling ill with COVID-19 and quarantining this year than last year, the officials say, because of the highly contagious delta variant and mixed adherence to COVID-19 safety measures such as masking, vaccinations and social distancing. Read more»

Firefighters from Wyoming and private crews work to build containment lines last week while battling the Cronan Fire, one of three fires comprising the River Complex in northern California,

Fighting wildfires did not get any easier this month, but it did get a little more profitable for thousands firefighters employed by the federal government as the departments of Agriculture and Interior bumped the minimum wage for federal firefighters up to $15 an hour. Read more»

A National Park Service firefighter monitors the Brawner Prescribed Fire.

The sweeping infrastructure bill that the U.S. Senate passed on Tuesday would lay the groundwork for raising federal wildland firefighter pay, one month after Pres. Biden announced one-time raises and bonuses to ensure they earn at least $15 an hour. Read more»

The Bighorn Fire burning along the Catalina Mountains near Golder Ranch and Oracle Roads. A plane surveilling the fire makes a figure eight over the eastern edge of the fire on the ridges.

Climate change is a big part of why wildfires are getting worse, but active fire suppression contributes to what is often referred to as the wildland fire paradox – the more we prevent fires in the short term, the worse wildfires become when they return. Read more»

The Telegraph Fire, which burned through 180,757 acres in the Tonto National Forest.

Forecasts for high temperatures and precipitation bode ill for the American West, already in the throes of a prolonged drought and attempting to quell hundreds of large wildfires scattered across nine states. Read more»

The Telegraph Fire near Superior, AZ. It was of several fires in the state that fire officials have battled because of weather and drought conditions.

Despite the inordinate number of fires burning across America’s heat-afflicted West, communities have managed to evade death and destruction so far, but experts warn conditions appear conducive to a severe fire season as the summer deepens into fall. Read more»

President Joe Biden on Wednesday convened a first-of-its-kind meeting to make similar preparations for what is shaping up to be another devastating wildfire season in the West.

Gov. Doug Ducey was one of just three Western governors that the White House didn’t invite to a meeting on wildfires that the Biden administration convened, despite the particularly nasty fire season that Arizona is currently facing. Read more»

The Telegraph Fire on June 6, 2021.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he will host a meeting next week of Western governors, Cabinet members and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials "to prepare for heat, drought and wildfires in the West." Read more»

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, backed by city residents and state and local officials, announces plans to shut down a water treatment facility to protect it from the chemical PFAS. Officials say the water is safe and they want to keep it that way – but want federal officials to do more to solve the problem.

City officials said they will indefinitely suspend operations at the Tucson Airport Remediation Project water treatment plant to keep it from being overwhelmed by an underground toxic chemical plume containing high levels of the chemical PFAS that could be moving toward the plant. Read more»

Forest Service leaders acknowledge in internal discussions that the agency has trouble recruiting and retaining firefighters, particularly in states such as California where it’s easy for firefighters to find higher-paying jobs with CAL FIRE or local fire departments.

Federal wildland firefighter jobs in California are sitting open even as the West heads into what’s likely to be a brutal fire season, and that's not just a problem for California. Read more»

Cars wait in line at a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site in Chandler on Dec. 31, 2020.

Hundreds of cars came and went at a steady pace on Dec. 31 through the multiple lanes set up at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. The state has been looking to speed up the rollout of the vaccine and get the 314,000 doses it has received so far into distribution. Read more»

The Bighorn Fire fire burning in Ventana Canyon as the sun sets, and the fire becomes more visible Thursday June 18, 2020.

The acreage torched by wildfires in Arizona was up sharply this year, but fire officials said it was still not a particularly bad season in terms of lives lost and structures burned in the blazes. Read more»

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