President Biden turns attention to Washington, Western US wildfires
President Joe Biden says it’s time to think of wildfires the way the government has long thought about hurricanes. Speaking with a group of Western governors, Biden stated that he’s ready to put a comprehensive effort in place as climate change coupled with drought conditions amplifying wildfire season, and now with extreme temperatures hitting the region as well.
The National Interagency Fire Center says the United States has experienced, on average, roughly 100 more large wildfires every year than the year before, going back to 2015.
Locally, Washington state is already experiencing its largest number of wildfires to date with 551 fires so far this year. That figure is up 50% from last year at this time, and is about a 90% increase over the five-year average at this time, according to state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
Franz spoke Wednesday about the dangerous drought conditions in the state, urging Washingtonians to practice fire safety and refrain from starting outdoor fires. Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources are also asking everyone to practice extreme caution over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“Please be safe, to be one less spark out there on our landscape and prevent the kind of wildfires we’ve already seen today and we’ve seen in previous years,” Franz said.
“It is very easy for these wildfires to start in every corner of our state,” she added
During last weekend’s heat wave, Franz says three firefighters were injured, one significantly. She says they will all be OK.
Investigators are looking into the cause of the Cedar Hills fire earlier this week, just south of Issaquah. The fire came close to power lines but crews prevented it from damaging those lines.