Dry conditions concerning Spokane firefighters as wildfires already start to spark


SPOKANE, Wash. — Wildfires are already sparking across Washington and the Department of Natural Resources said it’s responded to 91 fires this month in a matter of a week. In Spokane, fire districts are already seeing an increase compared to last year.

While some of us may not like the rain, it actually helps our firefighters.  With the lack of precipitation this year, firefighters are worried more fires and bigger fires will be a huge battle for them. The season is already starting earlier than expected.

“We’ve had a couple fires take off on us already, which is a little unusual for the year,” said Spokane County District 8 firefighter and EMT, Lane Bitz.

Spokane County Fire District 10 in Airway Heights has been to 12 wildfires so far this year. During this same time last year, only nine, and most fires last year were caused by downed powerlines.

“We’re going to have some drier conditions, which can tend to skyrocket some things,” Bitz said.

Something several fire districts are worried about.

“What’s concerning is that if we see this intensity early in the season and we don’t get that moisture, we believe that we’ll actually have more fire spread, more intensity and perhaps more acreage that is actually burned because of that,” said Fire Chief Lonnie Rash with Spokane County Fire District 8.

In 2020, District 8 had 13 fires from January to April. This year, they’ve had 16. However, Rash said 13 of those have been in the past three weeks — some caused by the weather and others by people.

“I would tell you in years past I probably would not have predicted us to have 3, 4, 5 acre fires in the first part of April,” Rash said.

According to Bitz, some of the most common human-caused fires they see are due to cigarettes, railroads, chains dragging or burn piles that got out of control.

“One wind shift can send a 4×4 brush pile into a 100-acre fire,” he said.

So what are fire districts doing to make sure they’re ready?

“Being prepared, understanding when those conditions can occur and then just really being ready to fight those fires when we can,” said Rash.

They’re asking you to also be prepared by keeping an eye on burn bans, trimming back your trees, creating defensible space around your home and being ready to leave if a fire gets out of control.

One way to stay in the know about evacuations is by signing up for Alert Spokane or you can download Code Red. You may get a phone call or text message telling you about an emergency in your area.

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