Wildfire Season Starts Early And With A Vengeance

By Chris Lehman, NW News Network

 

So far, more than 150 homes in Washington state have been destroyed in what veteran firefighters are calling the worst fire season in decades.

 

Fires have scorched thousands of acres of ranchland in southeast Oregon.
Credit Brooke Nyman / Oregon Cattleman’s Association

 

In neighboring Oregon, firefighters are stretched thin by more than a dozen blazes burning at once.

Veteran firefighter Al Lawson came to a community meeting in central Washington to meet with residents displaced by the raging Carlton Complex Fire. It’s among the largest wildfires in the state’s recorded history.

“In my 30 years, I’ve never seen fire behavior like this,” he said. “Nothing to compare.”

Governor Jay Inslee toured the devastation over the weekend. He called it an unprecedented firestorm.

“Our state is stretched beyond imagination,” he said.

Inslee says the fact that it’s only mid-July is an ominous sign.

“Typically the fire season doesn’t really get going until August,” he said. “So we have at least two more months in the fire season and we have already burned twice as many acres as the average.”

Oregon has been spared the same level of devastation in terms of lost property. But the Oregon Department of Forestry says so far the sheer number of acres burned this summer is seven times more than a typical fire season.

On a more positive note, the agency’s Cynthia Orlando says cooler weather for the next few days could help slow things down.

“We’re getting a lit bit of a respite but you know, everybody’s on alert here,” Orlando said.

Temperatures are expected to soar back into the 90s by the end of the week.

Washington’s Wildfire Season Officially Starts Tuesday

File photo. Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington stateInciWeb

File photo. Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington state

By Tom Banse, NW News Network

Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington state. Oregon and Idaho have rolling starts to fire precaution rules depending on local conditions.

Fire managers are looking ahead to a fairly “normal” wildfire season in Idaho and Washington this year. Drought-ridden central and southern Oregon though are classified at higher risk.

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources is sticking to its traditional April 15 start date to enforce summer fire rules on forest and rangelands statewide. Among other things, that means people working in the woods or clearing land need to have fire prevention equipment on hand.

Fire crews across the inland Northwest have already been dispatched to numerous small wildfires this spring.

Public agencies have mostly completed the recruitment of seasonal wildland firefighters and started training. Some private contract wildfire crews may still be hiring, if you’re looking for a tough summer job.