Dry, hot weather fuels Washington wildfires

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Jul 22, 2014


Photo: Firefighters try to hold the flames on the front lines of the Carlton Complex Fire in Central Washington on July 20, 2014.(Photo: Alex Rozier, KING-TV, Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.)

by NFPA's LisaMarie Sinatra

According to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, about 50 fires are now burning across the state and residents continue to brace for the worst as firefighters battle the blazes that have been sparked by hot, dry weather, powerful winds and lightning. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources said over the weekend that firefighters from New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have made their way to Washington to help fight the fires.

The Carlton Complex Fire, which began as four small fires and now has merged into one, was ignited by lightning, and has burned more than 238,000 acres across the central portion of the state. Fire crews, according to news reports, have been able to hold the fire back, and with cooler temperatures and lighter winds forecast for the next few days, many are hopeful they can make more progress in containing the flames. At the same time, Sheriff Frank Rogers said in a recent news report that the blaze is now moving away from populated areas and into timber.

The Chiwaukum Creek Fire, according to reports, has now burned more than 10,000 acres and thankfully, there have been no reports of injuries nor damage to structures. Residents in the area of Leavenworth, however, remain under an evacuation order.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that high winds caused the Watermelon Hill Fire, burning southwest of Spokane, to grow from 5,000 acres to 13,000 acres. The good news is, there have been no reports of damaged or destroyed homes there, and the fire has not moved towards populated areas. Few evacuation orders have been made, but residents in the area are all on alert.

NFPA recently distributed an advisory to a number of states experiencing increased wildfire activity, including Washington. The advisory lists a number of resources and information like what to do “before, during and after” a wildfire, the basics of defensible space, a Firewise homeowners checklist and safety tips sheet. All of these are available to help people learn what they can do to reduce their risk of injuries and prevent damage to their homes, property, businesses and more. Check out NFPA’s wildland fire web page for these and other resources to help keep you and your family safe this summer.