‘A recipe for significant challenges:’ Kennewick officials give burn safety tips following Saturday fire

KENNEWICK, Wash. — As fire season approaches, officials with the Kennewick Fire Department are warning you to stay vigilant if you’re planning on lighting a match.

Firefighters from across the area responded to a blaze Saturday afternoon where they found a line of arborvitae trees, three duplexes, two vehicles, and a boat that was all on fire.

ORIGINAL STORY: Kennewick homes, cars threatened by flaming trees sparked by a fire pit

Investigators later revealed they believed the flames sparked from embers inside of a fire pit at one of the duplexes, despite the owners thinking the fire was out.

While no one was injured, Kennewick Fire Chief Chad Michael said this serves as a good reminder to be aware of your surroundings as this is the second fire of the sort so far this year.

“When they showed up, we had 14-foot arborvitaes that were on fire. A whole row of them along the fence line,” Chief Michael said. “We had fairly high winds. It’s just not a great day to be out doing recreational fires.”

According to Chief Michael, arborvitae trees are “extremely flammable.”

“That type of vegetation, I think people also don’t realize is that’s the fuel that regardless of the time of year burns really really well,” Chief Michael said. “You put all those conditions together, you have a fuel like that, you have high wind and you have a recipe for significant challenges.”

To combat these kinds of fires from happening, he recommends paying close attention to the weather and being prepared for the unexpected.

“If you’ve lived here for any length of time you know we have high winds periodically so if we have a windy day it’s not a great day to be out burning,” Chief Michael said. “Make sure that you’ve got some equipment out that can help in the event that the fire does get away for some reason so have a garden hose close by.”

He also suggests becoming familiar with the area you’re burning by.

“Make sure that you’re not burning next to anything that would be combustible whether that be a building or a natural vegetation,” Chief Michael said. “Anything like that we want to stay away from those types of things.”

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