State leaders preparing for what they say may be the biggest wildfire season in history
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Wildfire season is well underway and state leaders are trying to reduce the number of fires this year.
Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is going around Central Nation Washington holding several town halls and Yakima is one of the locations.
Franz came out to the Yakima Area Arboretum to speak to the public about what is being planned to prevent wildfires from happening as well as how to better protect our forests.
“We wanted to be able to reach out to the community, educate them on what we’re doing and how many of our private land owners can take and participate to reduce the challenges that our forests are seeing,” said Franz.
Franz says this year is already predicted to be one of the biggest wildfire seasons Washington has seen.
“We have already seen over 380 fires to date just this year. From January 1 to present, that is the most that we’ve ever seen in Washington States history to our knowledge,” said Franz.
She says 75 percent of wildfires are human caused which is why DNR wants to reach out to the community to educate them on ways people can help prevent these fires form happening.
Franz says people need to make sure they are paying attention to burn bans, put out any fires once they have left a campsite and avoid using mechanical equipment on dry land.
“A lot of our fires actually get started in dry hot conditions, everything from mowing your lawn, weed wagon, dragging chains on your vehicle in dry hot grass areas,” said Franz.
The DNR is also working on a 20-year plan to combat these fires.
Franz says part of the 20-year plan is placing air assets and fire equipment on areas where there is drier land and are more likely to see fires, as well as get more firefighters to help out.
“We’ve prepositioned our fire equipment in those communities so that they are able to get on the fire sooner, keep them smaller, not have to travel as far to get there which allows those fires to spread quickly. The third thing is we just finished training over 1,200 firefighters at state, local and federal level,” said Franz.
She says they will keep reaching out to the community to make sure everyone is prepared and engaging in this wildfire season.