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Washington’s dry spell reminds us we are in the middle of wildfire season

(File, Ken Steinhardt/The Orange County Register via AP)

Our long dry spell is a reminder we are currently in fire season.

As a country, we have been discussing for years how to deal with wildfires. There’s a tug-of-war over whether we should put them out or let them burn.

Annie Schmidt, the director of policy and partnerships for the Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, told Seattle’s Morning News that everyone can learn to live better with wildfires.

“That’s not to say wildfire is always inherently good,” she said. “But it’s not always inherently bad either.”

In Central and Eastern Washington, wildfires are an annual issue. It isn’t uncommon for multiple fires to be burning at once.

At the end of June, three wildfires had forced the evacuation of residents as they consumed thousands of acres of land. And it was only back in 2015 when three firefighters were killed in a fast-moving fire near Twisp.

Schmidt says crews are catching “97-ish percent” of the fires within the first 24 to 48 hours. The ones that aren’t caught early on do the most damage.

But they would do less damage if communities within the path of potential destruction were just more prepared. Simply reducing vegetation around a home, or rebuilding a roof (obviously not cheap) are examples of steps homeowners can take.

Though large wildfires are unlikely to burn in Western Washington like they do in other parts of the state, Schmidt says the idea of preparing for devastation from a fire falls in the same category of other disaster prep — earthquakes, anyone?

Listen to the entire interview here.

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