Wildfire Awareness Week begins with 2 blazes burning in W. Wash.

May 6, 2013

Wildfire Awareness Week began Monday with record-breaking heat and crews working to contain two blazes that broke out over the weekend in Western Washington.

A helicopter is seen dumping water on the C-Line fire on Sunday, May 5, 2013.
Credit Washington Department of Natural Resources

The C-Line fire, first reported early Sunday, has scorched at least 60 acres in the Capitol State Forest, which is home to 20-year-old trees, according to the Department of Natural Resources. As of early Monday afternoon, the fire was 6 percent contained, and several trails were closed as a result (see full list of closures).

The Dry Dog Mountain fire, burning in Lewis County, had swept over approximately 100 acres of a 170-acre area of forest land. The blaze was half-contained by Monday afternoon. Steep terrain proved challenging for crews, DNR officials said.

The causes of the two fires have not been determined.

An exceptionally dry year

With dry winds and above-average temperatures predicted this summer and fall, fire managers are preparing for an earlier-than-usual wildfire season.

A high-pressure ridge since winter has dried the Northwest’s timberlands and big sage stands this spring.

John Saltenberger, fire weather program manager for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, says based on his observations, he believes 2013 might be one of the driest years in the last century.

“So we’re leading into fire season looking unusually dry for Oregon, Washington and Idaho,” he said. “We don’t know what the weather will be like during the fire season since that’s the most important factor, but going into it with higher-than-typical fire danger, we’re expecting more fires earlier in the year than typical.”

Crews put out several other wildfires over the weekend. The High Valley Lane fire near Tenino, which threatened a barn, broke out on Sunday. Crews managed to douse the flames, which scorched 9 acres. The East 15 Fire burned 6 acres, a blaze near La Center damaged 2 acres, and the W-2020 fire between Mossyrock and Salkum charred one-quarter of an acre.

DNR officials encouraged campers to completely extinguish all campfires. Homeowners were encouraged to prune trees taller than 15 feet, and to clear excess ground fuel as well as branches hanging over chimneys.