The lack of snow and overall dry winter in the region has fire crews on their toes. It leaves fuel moistures on the ground drier making logs and other vegetation burn quicker and hotter.
ELLENSBURG, WA - Our friends on the East Coast may be sick of the polar vortex, but local wildland firefighters said bring some of that snow over here.
"We need to be cautious even at this time of year," said Matt Eberlein, the Fire Operations District Manager for the Department of Natural Resources. "With no snow on the ground, we still have that dry grass component that dries out very quickly."
The lack of snow and overall dry winter in the region has fire crews on their toes. It leaves fuel moistures on the ground drier making logs and other vegetation burn quicker and hotter. Crews also depend on snowpack to fill up reservoirs like lakes and rivers.
"The availability of water for us to be able to draft from, dip from with our buckets in the aircraft, is definitely a concern for us," said Eberlein.
Fire crews said even though it's still wintertime, homeowners need to already start thinking about protecting their homes. Firefighters said it's a perfect time to start creating a 30 foot radius around your homes. This is called defensible space.
"They can go around their homes and reduce that fuel loading, whether it's overstocked trees, trees too close to the house, brush, tall grass, leaves all that flammable vegetation," said Eberlein.
Crews said you can either chip it, haul it away to a compost site or possibly burn it. But be sure to check the burn restrictions in your area.
At this time, the Department of Natural Resources said they're going to work with their given budget, which is the same as last year. They have 22 engines and five helicopters for the region but can also get help from neighboring fire districts.