Before you light up this holiday weekend: ‘Think of firefighter safety’

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Fire stations are sure to have a busy weekend as they cope with not only the holiday weekend, but also the hottest and driest part of the year.

And eastern Washington, or more specifically, Tri-Cities, is known for tall, dry, easy-to-burn sagebrush and tumbleweeds. Officials are saying this weekend, it’s important to keep an eye on your fires. That way, these weeds don’t turn into fuel.

Captain Ron Fryer, the Public Information Officer for Benton County Fire District #1 said, “Obviously this is the last hurrah before the summer ends. And so a lot of people are gonna go out camping and we just asked them to be firewise.”

READ: HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A WILDFIRE THREATENS

Less fires means less first responders who put their lives on the line during what’s supposed to be a time of celebration. It’s a three-day holiday weekend for most, but not for these heroes.

“We’re kind of selfish in the fire service. And we want you to think of firefighter safety, because every time they go out on a fire like that, it’s always–it puts them in harm’s way,” said Captain Fryer. “And if we don’t have any fires, then it just makes it safe for us.”

Record-low fire summer in a record-high heat summer

There have been intense blazes this summer, but according to the DNR, Washington has had a low-fire year. They said it’s been the lowest this year than in the last decade. That’s due to the late and wet spring. Now in early September, it’s hot and dry.

“When you’re setting those record highs, it draws the moisture out of the wheat out of the timber out of the sagebrush very, very efficiently,” said Matthew Dehr, the Wildfire Meteorologist with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Dehr said August and September have been the hottest on record for Washington in the last hundred years.

He explains why these record highs are heightening fire risk. “If fires start and get going across eastern Washington this weekend, they’re most likely going to be human caused. So mitigating the human-caused fires is really the most that we can do when these conditions are so severe.”

Washington is experiencing this low-burn summer so far, but that doesn’t mean it can’t flare up in seconds. Keep an eye on your fire this Labor Day Weekend, because we want to keep holidays wildfire-free.

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