Wildfire Season
6:21 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Northwest Firefighters Play Waiting Game Amid Cooler Weather

Some firefighters from the Northwest have been sent to blazes across the West. But the firefighters still at home are playing the waiting game.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Boise Tuesday. They toured the center that coordinates national wildfire response efforts.

Some firefighters from the Northwest have been sent to blazes across the West. But as Jessica Robinson reports, the firefighters still at home are playing the waiting game.

In Colorado, crews are approaching two weeks of battling the Waldo Canyon Fire. Meanwhile, the Northwest has been so wet, some fire managers dubbed last month “June-uary.”

There have been so few blazes, wildland firefighter Emily Emmons has had to pick up odd jobs.

“I’ve been doing landscaping and washing dishes at the Elks Lodge, playing music … lots of reading,” she says with a laugh.

Emmons is on a regional firefighting crew in southern Oregon with contractor Grayback Forestry. The latest fire season forecast shows Washington and Oregon’s fire risk is below normal, at least through the end of July.

Emmons says firefighters have mixed feelings about waiting for the call to come in.

“Obviously anybody who’s in any kind of emergency service doesn’t want that disaster to happen," she says. "But people want work at the same time.”

Idaho firefighters may have less downtime this summer. Forecasters expect significant fire danger throughout the southern part of the state this year.

I’m Jessica Robinson reporting.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio