Rain now may fuel summers wildfires

  • Fri Jun 4th, 2010 10:43pm
  • News

By Katya Yefimova Herald Writer

The rainy weather so far has spared Western Washington the brush fires typical this time of year, but that can mean hotter and faster fires in summer months, fire protection officials say.

In Snohomish County, it’s difficult to predict what the summer will bring, Getchell Fire Department Chief Travis Hots said. Rain makes brush grow quicker, which makes for more fuel when the brush dries out by midsummer, he said.

People living in areas at risk for wildland fires — more than half of Snohomish County is affected — should take steps to protect their homes, said Esther Hernandez, a deputy state fire marshal. That includes clearing the roof and gutters from pine needles, removing debris from under decks and storing wood away from the house.

It’s also important to manage plants and trees growing near the home. Consider planting water-resistant plants within 30 feet of the house. Water plants and trees, and mow the lawn regularly. Tree brunches should not hang over any parts of the house. For trees growing 20 to 100 feet away from the home, allow at least 20 feet between tree crowns, to prevent the spread of fire. Separate shrubs by at least two times their mature height. Install gravel walkways and lawns to break up clusters of vegetation.

For trees growing further than 100 feet from the home, making sure that canopies are not touching will slow the spread of flames in the event of a fire.

Snohomish County usually is not at risk for large wildfires, as are Eastern and Central Washington. But brush fires here can threaten homes and cause damage almost every year.

“We prepare for the worst but hope for the best,” Hots said. “Whatever they throw our way, we are going to be prepared to deal with.”

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, kyefimova@heraldnet.com