Wenatchee Valley Bracing For Rush Of Wildfires This Season
New forecasting from the National Interagency Fire Center shows North Central Washington will be especially at risk for wildfires this summer.
Unusually warm weather led to an early melt-off of snow, and the ground is drying out more quickly than normal because of continued above normal temperatures.
Wenatchee Valley Fire Chief Brian Brett says the local area is quickly becoming a tinderbox for wildfires.
"With that heat coming a few more weeks into June, we're likely to be staring at bone dry hillsides on all slope aspects here in the valley floor," said Brett.
Brett says the north facing hillsides in the area are still green, which will temporarily lessen the spread of wildfires.
But with the quickly drying out of the hillsides around Wenatchee, he's bracing for a barrage of fires.
"Anything that throws a spark on the ground is catastrophic for us, at least potentially," Brett said. "Parking your vehicle, pulling your vehicle off the side of the road where light, flashy fuels are underneath your vehicle, It's as simple as that."
Driving off of county roads is prohibited in the current Chelan County seasonal burn ban.
There've been a number of wildfires locally in the last few years that started when vehicles traveled off of roads.
All-terrain vehicles were seen driving on the orchard road not long before the Red Apple Fire started near Wenatchee in 2021. Former Fire Marshall Bob Plumb said at the time that soot from an exhaust or grass may have ignited from contact with a muffler or engine.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there's a 70-80 percent chance for temperatures in Washington state to be above normal, 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.