Washington, Oregon expected to have worst fire season in the country

SEATTLE -- Washington and Oregon are expected to have the worst wildfire season in the nation, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Today crews cleared underbrush and small trees on a Nature Conservancy managed forest on Cle Elum Ridge, as part of its 20-year plan to reduce the threat of wildfires in Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald. The owner of Logan's is getting ready.

"We're planting plants all around the building within a space of 10 feet out so that if there is a fire, it won't integrate into our property," said Becky Benavides, owner of Logan's.

So far this year, Washington state has seen nearly 300 fires. In a typical season, around 100 burn.

"The reason why we're seeing an increase in fires, people are staying home, staying safe, and they have more time on their hands and doing yard work and they're burning those debris piles and they're getting out of control," said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

As we enter the summer months, another factor that could increase wildfire risk is warmer and drier than average conditions for June and July. Also, the early loss of snowpack, especially on the eastern slope of the Cascades is bringing moderate to severe drought conditions in that region.

Another challenge this wildfire season, is keeping firefighters safe during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. DNR says it will turn to more air resources and use their latest tool, pumpkin tanks. They're portable water storage tanks that can be deployed to hard reach areas that lack natural water sources, and can be refill sites for helicopters.

DNR is urging the community to take steps to prevent wildfires such as maintaining defensible space between your home and wildlife, and stop lighting fires.