Dry Fuels Send Area Brush Fires Out Of Control

Fire Districts urge residents to call their local district before burning debris

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WENATCHEE- Over the last few weeks of sunshine, firefighters found themselves busy with a number of brush fires that got out of control in dry fuels throughout the region.

“There’s a lot of them that have been happening. It’s usually just from people who are doing their controlled fires and they get out of control,” said Chelan County Fire District 1 Chief Mike Burnett. “A gust of wind and people don’t realize how dry all the fuels are right now. We’ve had multiple brush fires.”

The most recent fire burned nearly 50 acres in East Wenatchee, closing down Fancher Heights on Saturday afternoon, Burnett said, and with smoke rising throughout the county as the weather clears, the district could see more until the fuels green up.

Burnett says whether you’re burning backyard waste like branches and leaves or you’re an orchard preparing for a land clearing burn, it’s important to call your local fire district.

Backyard burning is allowed outside of the Urban Growth boundary and city limits as long as the fire is a small pile and is monitored with tools readily available to put the fire out, Burnett said.

“The other fires that tend to get a little bit out of control quicker are the larger fires where they’re burning debris whether it’s orchard prunings or land clearing,” Burnett said. “Call your local fire department and ask if it’s okay to be burning that day.”

The fire districts analyze wind conditions and forecast fire behavior in order to determine if burning is safe throughout the region, Burnett said. This is different than seasonal burn bans, as the Department of Ecology issues a burn ban based on air quality.

“It doesn’t take much, you have to stay vigilant, stay on top of it and make sure that your fire does not get outside of its contained area,” he said.