Fire Outlook Just A Flicker In Northwest

May 17, 2012

Agriculture officials say fire season looks mild this year for Washington and Idaho, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking a backseat on preparedness.

The snowmelt that caused recent flooding on area rivers and streams may help keep wildfires minimal once fire season begins in late June. One man who hopes this turns out to be true- Harris Sherman is an undersecretary at USDA, placing him at the head of the U.S. Forest Service.

“We urge people to remove debris and vegetation around their houses, to keep trees at safe distances, to trim trees, where possible to use fire resistant building materials, and the like.”

Sherman says the outlook for fires appears normal or below normal in the Northwest forests. Not so for other areas of the country, like California and the southwestern states. He gives two examples to what’s causing more dangerous fires: evolving climate patterns, and dense or monolithic forests that are in need of restoration.

“Nationally if you look before the year 2,000 it was very rare that you would see more than 5 million acres burned in any given year, and we may see a situation where we are exceeding 10 million acres a year.’

Sherman says the Forest Service will carefully watch the southern part of Washington which has received below average precipitation. People interested in fire safety whether for camping or for home preparedness can find helpful tools at

Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio