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DNR preparing for wildfire season

By Colleen O'Brien, Reporter / Weekend Anchor, colleeno@kxly.com
Published On: May 03 2013 08:49:51 PM CDT
Updated On: May 03 2013 08:51:15 PM CDT
Firefighters fighting wildfire

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SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -

The heat is on and so are preparations for wildfire season. The Department of Natural Resources crews are working the brush lands of Spokane, removing fuels that could spell trouble if a fire is sparked.

While a lush forest might look appropriate out at Camp Sekani in Spokane Valley, not even Mother Nature is a fan. So, DNR crews are trying to mimic what she would do naturally.

In time, a wildfire would move through the campgrounds and burn away small fuels. The guys of Chewack Wildfire, who contract with DNR, can do that without the destruction of fire so they give Mother Nature the day off.

"You want to be able to walk through the forest and not touch the crowns of the trees," DNR's Guy Gifford said. "We're reducing the fuel so the flames won't burn with much intensity and this makes it easier for a firefighter to put out the fire and when the fire comes at a home there's less intensity so there's less chance of starting the house on fire."

Every three years, on average, Gifford says homes will be lost in a wildfire. So, priority clearing goes to places like Camp Sekani.

"Just in Spokane County alone over 100 wildfires a year, most of them are small in size and most people aren't aware of it," Gifford said.

The last major fire in Spokane County was give years ago this July. The Valley View fire tore through 11 homes. In recent years though, Gifford says Spokane County has been lucky.

"It can happen again,"Gifford warned. "With the right conditions the odds are it will happen again."

He says it's up to the community to keep the lucky streak going because 9 out of 10 fires are usually human caused.

"The one thing about the wonderful environment we live in; we get nice summers, also it's good for fire season," Gifford said.

If you live in an area surrounded by brush and trees, DNR specialists will come out an help you survey an assess your land to help you make changes. Call 509-684-7474.

You can also call 1-800-323-BURN to find out if a burning restriction is in place.

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