Northwest Fire Season Ramps Up East Of The Cascades

Jun 4, 2014

Workers in the Tri-Cities, Wash. area got notice Wednesday of tinder-dry conditions at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and were advised to practice fire safety at work and at home. It’s about four weeks ahead of schedule for these types of fire-weather alerts and a sign of a long, hot summer ahead.

A 2013 wildfire near Goldendale, Washington.
Credit Washington Incident Management Team #2 / InciWeb

Earlier this week the Hanford site was already looking brown and toasty. Fire forecasters across the region are warning of tinder-dry conditions ripe for winds, lightning and human folly.

Aaron Bibe, a lieutenant with Benton County Fire District 1 in the Tri-Cities, is in charge of predicting fire conditions in the county. He said this week, the humidity readings, tinder dry cheat grass, sagebrush and Russian olive trees all indicated it was time for him to ratchet up to the “Very Dry” designation.

“We would encourage people to use the same caution that they do later in the summer, because that’s the conditions we’re seeing right now,” Bibe said.

Bibe explained that it’s due to a scant-rain spring and pretty dry winter. He says most fires are caused by humans and urged caution. Bibe advised using machinery like chainsaws in the early morning, sticking to trails and roads when off-roading and having a bucket of water handy with campfires this summer.

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