Brush Fire Season in the Wenatchee Valley Has Arrived
Spring brush fire season is underway in Chelan and Douglas Counties along with other parts of the state.
Yesterday (4/4) fire crews responded to a brush fire in Manson where wind driven flames blackened part of a ravine off Lower Joe Creek Road. The fire was contained and some small spot fires from embers were put out.
Conditions are still relatively damp, but the fire is a reminder that flames can still carry through green grass and brush.
Around the Wenatchee Valley, crews with Chelan and Douglas counties have experience extinguishing brush fires in late winter and early spring. Wenatchee Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Brett recalls brush fires popping up in March of 2014 and 2015.
"We had two of our worst wildfire years in our region in recent history," Chief Brett said. "So far this year, the weather's conducive to a slow start to wildland fire season. However, as the fuels transition here in the shrubs, steppe environment where we are in the valley, we get a duff on the green foliage that burns. It's not quite ready yet but that's how we transition the fuels here into brush fire season, which is why we impose the burn ban by June 1."
In years past, the region's many orchards acted as a buffer between fires and communities. More homes are now being built directly into the fuels of grass and sage, signaling the need for more defensible space.
"In the Sunnyslope area two years ago, we had several 100 homes threatened through the night and then to the next day. They had good defensible space that allowed us to bump the fire past the structures and containment away from the structures. That works well for us, that action on the homeowner's part makes a big difference in our ability to protect the structures." Chief Brett said.
Chief Brett would like to remind the public a wildfire liaison that serves the East Wenatchee and Wenatchee areas will perform home assessments, consult on home ignition zone concepts and recommend defensible space plans.
"We have the resources. We love it when the public reaches out to us and engages us to take proactive measures in protecting their property and making it more resilient to wildfire. It makes our job easier." Chief Brett said.
During this time of year, fire departments gear up for what might be an explosive fire season during the summer and fall months. The Chelan County Fire Department will have its helicopter on standby at the Malaga Fire Station starting June 1st.
"We have one helicopter stationed out there throughout the summer. When we have red flag fire coming through the area, we'll have an additional helicopter in Malaga. We also can put a helicopter at the Sunnyslope fire station. It's not uncommon for us to have three helicopters here because we are in the hub of wildland firefighting in the region." Chief Brett added.
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