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Wildfire Season
Wildfire Season
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Rocky updated 2 months ago

How often do people pay for damages from fires they started?

Last week, officials confirmed that the Rooster Comb fire was man-made. The 88-acre fire began after sparks from a power saw ignited nearby grass. Costs to fight the fire are estimated at $350,000.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) could seek restitution for those costs if the fire is determined to have been started recklessly or on purpose.

While DNR determines that, I wanted to dig deeper and see how often people pay for firefighting costs of fires that they started.

According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources website, "about 85 percent of all wildfires that occur annually in Washington are human-caused." When fires are determined to be criminally or negligently caused, the DNR is required by law to recover costs.

Of the human-caused wildfires, 52% are determined to be criminally or negligently started. Often, recovering costs results in a lawsuit.

According to DNR Communications Manager Janet Pearce, "Many times, we don't get the suppression cost back because people cannot afford the cost. It's sad all the way around! If someone can't pay, we can't get the costs recovered."

In 2016, out of 44 fires, DNR was able to recover only 22% of fire suppression costs. When agencies cannot recover the cost of fighting fires, it's paid for out of other budgets or by insurers. The cost of fighting fires is expected to increase to $1.8 billion due to climate change, according to the United States Forest Service.

The easiest way to not pay for fire... (More)

TERI replied 7 months ago

What will be the most useful this summer?

In the World newsroom we're gearing up for another wildfire season in the Wenatchee Valley. It's always a case of hope for the best but plan for the worst. 

What kind of wildfire information or resources would you find most useful? Help us shape our coverage!

TERI liked 7 months ago

Beware of another bad fire season...

Art Douglas, a professor at Creighton University known as "The Weatherman," is predicting dry spring weather leading to an above-normal wildfire season. How do you prepare for fire season? 



Madeline updated 9 months ago

An above-average season or the usual conditions? Three predictions for the NCW wildfire season

(Originally posted on June 25, 2020)

This article also appeared in the Wenatchee World. View it here.

WENATCHEE—It’s been a fairly mild, wet spring and early summer, but full-season fire forecasts expect upcoming dry, warm summer weather could aggravate wildfires.

“Summers have been getting hotter and they have been getting dryer over time. All of that helps to increase the risk,” said Jonathan Fox, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane. “Based on those long-range climate trends that we've been seeing, that would tend to give a little bit more gravity to the forecast.”

A robust fire season is correlated with hot weather and an availability of “starters,” according to Fox. Starts include lightning from dry storms, dry vegetation like sage brush and cheatgrass and human interference from burnings.

“You want the real hot weather and you want just a few dry thunderstorms to get a really big fire season,” Fox said.

The current fire season has been “typical” for north-central Washington, according to Chelan County Fire Marshal Bob Plumb. The Wenatchee Valley has seen a handful of small fires this season already, including a 100-acre brush fire in No. 2 Canyon.

World photo/Don Seabrook

“We're trying to stay ahead of it,” Plumb said. “Nothing's really gotten super big. I'd rather not have a smoky season.”

The Chelan County burn ban is currently at a moderate hazard level, but that could change in the coming weeks, according to Plumb. Outdoor burning is prohibited in Chelan and Douglas counties... (More)