Local crews called on to help fight Eastern Washington wildfires

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- As several wildfires rage in Eastern Washington, firefighters from the west side of the state are being called on for help.

Three strike teams left Thurston County by Sunday night and on Monday morning.

Firefighters from Lewis, Clallam, Thurston, King, Pierce, Grays Harbor and Wahkiakum counties are expected to help out on the front lines to help save lives and property.

Engines, tender trucks and firefighters hit the road early Monday morning from Olympia – all heading to help out with several wildfires burning out of control in Eastern Washington.

“It’s really important to understand the relationship for our west side resources to help our brothers and sisters and all those citizens on the east side,” said McLane/Black Lake Fire Department Assistant Chief Tedd Hendershot.

Thousands of acres have burned and in some fire zones homes have burned to the ground.

When the state mobilizes people and resources from across the state, that means local firefighters pack their bags and hit the road to help.

“August has always been a hotbed,” said Hendershot. “Last year it started early, we started having fires in June and it progressed all the way into summer.”

“Last year and the year before were extreme,” said Tim Perciful with King County Fire District 44.  “This was only the second or third time this year we’ve sent trucks over.”

Sharing resources to battle wildfires is nothing new in Washington, but calculating exactly what resources local fire departments can share is a difficult balancing act when considering the needs for fire protection in Western Washington.

“One of the difficult things with sending brush trucks over, we need to protect our resources here,” said Perciful. “It’s been really hot and dry here so it’s a balance game, what can we send over while protecting citizens here.”

Since Sunday night, approximately three dozen local firefighters have been sent to Eastern Washington in a convoy of trucks and tenders. Some firefighters will be on the road close to 10 hours before they hit the fire lines.