Fire alongside I-5 in Seattle continues trend amid dry weather

Aug 3, 2023, 9:53 AM | Updated: 10:23 am

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Seattle firefighters drenched a smoky brush fire along Interstate 5 near Stewart Street and Eastlake Avenue in Seattle Thursday morning. (Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

Seattle firefighters drenched a smoky brush fire Thursday morning along Interstate 5 near Stewart Street and Eastlake Avenue in Seattle.

It’s a scene that’s been repeated frequently this summer, with a three-mile-long fire off I-5 in Marysville Tuesday and multiple brush fires in the Smokey Point Area Monday.

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“Yes, just this past month, we responded to well over 200 bark and brush fires throughout the city,” said Seattle Fire Department Spokesman David Cuerpo. “We’re seeing almost double the number of dry brush fires and bark fire responses that we had compared to last year.”

Meteorologists say that western Washington is running about six inches behind in rainfall so far this year.

Recently, the Washington Department of Ecology declared a drought emergency in 12 counties across the state, including Clallam County, Whatcom County, and parts of Skagit, Snohomish, and Jefferson counties. The rest of the region remains in a drought advisory.

The latest seasonal weather outlook for the rest of the summer through September continues to show good chances of warmer and drier-than-average conditions.

Although investigators have not yet determined what sparked Thursday morning’s fire, Cuerpo says that the warm weather, along with some carelessly created sparks, are the reason why this year has had more fires.

“These persistent dry, warm conditions create an environment where dry vegetation can easily catch fire, whether it be from discarded smoking materials, grilling, or even just sparks from chains that are dragging from a car,” Cuerpo said.

The Seattle Fire Department is asking drivers and homeowners to be extra careful with anything that might spark a fire. In more rural parts of King County, the high number of brush fires has led the King County Fire Marshal to issue a burn ban on all outdoor recreational fires effective immediately.

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Fire alongside I-5 in Seattle continues trend amid dry weather