Wildfire, Forest, Canada Growth in western Washington wildfires a worrying trend amid stressed forests
I think it’s an eye opener, it’s it’s, you know summer grade showed us something that i think a lot of us, maybe didn’t think would happen. It opened. Our eyes woke us up to that. The west side of washington is not immune to a large scale wildfire. It sounds like it could have been worse, it could have been. You know, i think we easily could have if we had not had everything come together at the right time. John parkinson recently took over as the new fire chief for east pierce fire and rescue, but he was on duty on that windy. Labor day weekend in 2020, the sumner grade fire is named for the steep long climb along highway 410 heading toward the cascade mountains. That weekend for the state as a whole, yes was horrible. Yes and then it came here, yep yep and i think i think one of the most helpless feelings that i recall, uh listening to the radio was our on scene incident commander after he had already requested a second alarm which was early in the fire within just A few minutes asking our dispatch center. If i ask for a third alarm, am i going to get any resources and the quick answer back was there are no additional resources, so no additional resources in the county or neighboring counties so basically you’re on your own. Until until further notice, the fire was sparking, it jumped the highway and was sparking in the neighborhood south of the neighborhood.
At the bottom of the neighborhood king five spoke with residents, tamara and kyle casera after the worst had passed. Apparently, at one point they were deciding whether they should just let the neighborhood go, because it was so bad and they stayed and they stayed for strangers and uh. You know pride of their community and the heroism is insane. It was that close. The person who was running this division – i still recall him pointing to a house down the road here and this house saying you know these houses are undefensible we’re, going to lose them and within minutes they started burning. We didn’t have the resources. He pointed to a number of other houses and said in these houses we’re not going to be able to protect. Also again, it was almost like a scene out of a movie with just at the at just the right minute. A new engine would show up just as fire was creeping towards a house just as fire was creeping towards another house, a helicopter would fly over and you’d see them dump a bucket of walk water. On top of a house, we had a ladder truck in one of the cul de sacs, basically working like a yard sprinkler, spinning in circles defending houses. In the end, only two houses were lost. He says many others had fire damage, they got lucky the sumner grade. Fire has become a benchmark for the fire potential here on the west side of the state Applause Music, one of the fire departments that helped out on sumner grade was orting valley and in may on.
A high altitude logging site still subject to snowfall orting valley, provided training for fire districts and fire departments in pierce, king and other counties. Are you seeing more fires in your area of service than you did say five years ago, absolutely yeah in my 19 years? In the fire service i’ve seen a tremendous growth in wildfire and interface type fire jake wegley helped put together this training program, it’s, not a straight line, but the trend is clear in the decade since 2010, the number of fire starts and the number of acres burned In washington has gone up, 2015 stands out as the worst well over. A million acres as that year stands as a record: drought. 2020. The second most acres lost the 813 000 acres more than 13 times the area burned in 2010 and in two of the last three years the department of natural resources says: 40 percent of the fire starts have occurred on the west side of the state. So the training we’re getting today will end up with our red card, our wildland training we’re, going to be learning how to dig line clean up hot spots and maybe put some water on the fire as well. Trevor painter is one of those firefighters now adding wildland skills. You know our fire season is starting charlie burns retired. After fighting fire for dnr for 47 years now, he’s helping orting valley deal with a growing reality. Can it happen here? Yes, it can happen here, and it does happen here, and this is part of the problem.
Western washington has a bit of an image problem because it is so gorgeous. It is so lush. It is so green, but here’s the issue even where we are in edmonds. In a forested park, what is down here on the ground is already very, very dry back to you guys, which is a huge concern, as you said so glenn, you talked a lot about resources, what’s the bigger picture that our state has to deal with this season. Well, the bigger picture, is we can’t just look in at washington in isolation? When you talk to the commissioner of public lands, hillary franz and others, they will point out that, because we have fires in other parts of the country, especially california, oregon often it’s arizona, as it already been this season.