Chelan County Gearing Up For Fires In Forests And Vacation Spots
Chelan County Emergency Management is gearing up for wildfire season by meeting with groups and agencies to shore up procedures and plans.
New forecasting from the National Interagency Fire Center shows North Central Washington will be especially at risk for wildfires this summer.
Emergency Management Sergeant Jason Reinfeld says planning and public awareness is important.
"We're in the process at Emergency Management of meeting with several groups this time of year just on pre-fire type of issues, just to put out there our evacuation levels and what to expect if there is a fire and we start posting those levels," said Reinfeld.
The county is now coordinating fire response plans with state and federal agencies as well as local fire districts.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources along with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are involved in the process.
One area of concern is Holden Village, which is a vacation destination 12 miles up a dirt road from Lake Chelan.
Up to 350 people could be visiting the village at any given time during the summer.
Reinfeld says his group joined the U.S Forest Service this week to meet with members of the village to address fire preparedness.
"You just have to look a lot further ahead and take into consideration the fact that there's only one way out of there just to get to a boat dock," Reinfeld said. "And if there's any potential that the fire could hit the roadway, we just need to be aware of that and get people out of there before that can happen."
Holden Village had to be evacuated back in 2015 when the Wolverine Fire came through the area. It’s only accessible from the lake through a dock at the Lucerne campgrounds.
The Village was a copper mining town between the 1930s and 1950s. It was abandoned in 1957, leaving five toxic metals including aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron and zinc.
Rio Tinto, a global mining company, has been managing the cleanup of the area and operates a water filtration plant on site.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there's a 70-80 percent chance for temperatures in Washington state to be above normal this summer, which is the highest in the country.
Most of eastern Washington is expected to have above normal potential for wildfires in June, and the entire state will have above normal potential from July through September.
Only Washington and northern Oregon are expected to have such a long stretch of above normal chance for wildfires.