DNR: Wildfire season to be short but intense

SPOKANE - Fire experts are predicting shorter fire season this year due to the wet spring, which helped grow the brush that fuels wildfires, but it's expected to be more intense than years past.

A normal fire season starts in early July, but this year it has been delayed until mid to late July.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources raised the danger level from low to moderate for Spokane County in May following a winter with limited snowfall and a stretch of warm weather.

Guy Gifford with DNR says the wet spring supplied the moisture for ground fuels like grasses to grow taller than normal. As the summer progresses, those grasses will dry out providing additional fuels to spread fires.

?What the predictions are we're getting a lot taller fuels than previous years and we're thinking this stuff will dry out as the summer goes on and we'll have a shorter but high intense fire season,? Guy Gifford with the Washington Department of Natural Resources said.

To make matters worse the weeds now double their normal height are still growing but it won't take very long for them to cure or dry out.

?While it looks really green today, this time of the year it doesn't take very long for things to dry out very quickly because we have high temperatures and the other thing we have time of year is we have very long daylight hours,? Gifford said.

The existence of extra fuel this summer means once a fire starts crews will have to launch a quick initial attack or run the risk of the blaze spreading out of control.

?This large flashy fuel can give us large flame lengths which means they can spread very, very quickly and they can out run a firefighter, they can actually outrun fire trucks,? Gifford added.

Early predictions show an above normal season in the Okanogan National Forest and northeastern Washington near the Canadian border.

There are no fire bans in place in Spokane County at present but the number to call to check before you light a fire 1-800-323-BURN.

KXLY4's Jeff Humphrey contributed to this report