Washington braces for higher than average wildfire season


Western Washington’s wetter and cooler spring this year could make for a milder fire season than in recent years, but parts of the state are expected to yield higher than typical forest fire activity.

Eastern Washington has been experiencing a drought, according to a Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA) news release.

The WFPA represents private forest landowners growing and harvesting trees on about 4 million acres in Washington state.

Eastern Washington is the primary concern for increased wildfire dangers, according to The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

As it stands, there are 18 Washington counties currently experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System  — all counties located east of the Cascades.

In addition, the NIFC noted that central and southern parts of Washington are already at “above-normal risk” for wildfires.

Wildfires are more likely toward the tail end of a dry, hot summer, the release stated.

The Forest Protection Association noted “the wildfire outlook is especially salient after a recent assessment found roughly one in three properties within the Pacific West (the states of Washington, Oregon and California) are at risk of wildfire exposure,” according to a model created by the nonprofit First Street Foundation

“As changing climate drives more frequent and severe wildfire events, Fire Factor will prove critical in ensuring everyone has the insights they need to understand their personal risk to avoid and protect against the devastating impact of a wildfire,” said Matthew Eby, founder and executive director of First Street Foundation.

According to the release, dangerous and catastrophic blazes underscore the need for Washington to actively manage its forests through approaches like thinning, prescribed burns, removing underbrush and selective harvests.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources resumed prescribed burns on state lands recently, the first such forest management in 18 years, the release stated.


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