Preparing for an "above normal" fire season

TRI-CITIES, WA- An above normal wildfire season is expected for parts of Washington and Oregon.

Tuesday, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) asked the U.S. Forest Service for a "guarantee" that they will use money approved by Congress to help reduce the threat of wildfires -- despite proposed budget cuts.

Senator Cantwell said that by early June we could see more fires than we did last year. 

This is concerning to me, that we are projected to be above normal as it relates to fire season,” Cantwell said. “You get my attention anytime the map targets western Washington and southeast Alaska and basically say that in early June we could be above normal for fire season. That’s not normal.”

Fire agencies in our area are already getting a jump start to help prepare us for what's to come. 

Tuesday afternoon, fire departments from all over Southeastern Washington met up to prepare their fire teams for what's to come.

"When we have big working fires like we did in South Kennewick last year the local resources is overwhelmed so we call in people and mutual aid from the rest of the state," Pasco Fire Department Community Risk Reduction Specialist,  Ben Shearer said. 

Shearer said that it's not only important for these firefighters to get an early start on planning- but it's also important for home-owners as well. 

"Firefighters get there after the fact when the fire is already happening but you can actually do a lot of things to protect your home... protect yourself from being that casualty," Shearer said. 

WSU Tri-Cities, Master Gardener, Ted Cress said by looking around your home you can help protect it. 

"To understand how you can defend your property and that begins with landscape planning," Cress said.

By creating a barrier with fire-resistant plants around your home and cleaning up your existing landscape, that will help keep a fire from spreading.

"You might think oh i'm in a residential section of town it doesn't really matter but you really can get a spark from a mile away from a range fire," Cress said. 

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