Officials: Washington wildfire threat could continue into October

ROSLYN, Wash. – As wildfires continue burning in Central and Eastern Washington, forecasters at the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho worry this year’s fire season could last through October.

Our region hasn’t seen significant rainfall in months and firefighters warn the fire danger in most of our state is either in the high or extreme category.

One of the wildfires burning in Washington State is the Jolly Mountain Fire in Kittitas County.

It’s already scorched nearly 12,000 acres since it was started by a lightning strike in early August, but firefighters say they’re beginning to take the upper hand.

“We are going to do some test firings, lighting some back fires and close this gap in hopes of containing this fire,” said spokesperson Steven Bekkerus.

Satellite images showed clear images of rising smoke from several fires burning in Washington State. Considering the current weather conditions and forecasts, fire fighters say it’s possible new wildfires could pop up.

“We’ve had about a quarter of an inch of rain or less since August 11, so it’s extremely dry out here,” said Bekkerus.

All of Washington is in either the high or extreme risk of wildfire category.

While more than 300 people are on the front lines at the Jolly Mountain Fire, officials say resources are quickly being tapped out because of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

“Fire season grows longer and longer every year, then you have hurricanes on top of that.” said Bekkerus, adding the availability of first responders has been strained since a massive storm flooded major portions of Texas and Louisiana.

Fire bans have popped up across the state but the trees and brush are so dry, the National Weather Service suggest people avoid fires even they don’t live in an area currently under a burn ban.

The wildfire is also bad timing for Labor Day weekend. Several campgrounds near Cle Elem Lake were forced to close because of the danger.

While the Jolly Mountain Fire was sparked by lightning most others can be blamed on people’s carelessness, said firefighters.

Officials say if people aren’t mindful of the fire danger new fires could pop up this holiday weekend.

“Practice your Smokey Bear principals, only you can prevent wildfires,” said Bekkerus. “And please, no open flames at this time.”