Wildfire season approaching in Spokane County

Wildfire season approaching in Spokane County

SPOKANE, Wash. - Memorial Day weekend is the kick-off to the summer season. People head outdoors to enjoy the warm weather, and that means camping.

"People leave their campfires unattended. We start dealing with that more and more as we hit this upcoming weekend with Memorial Day weekend," said Guy Gifford with the Department of Natural Services.

Gifford says many people are unaware of how many wildfires Spokane County sees on average.

"Our normal fire season is over 100 fires a year," said Gifford.

Gifford says each year at least one home is lost because of wildfires. That is considered to be a good season.

Earlier this month, the Washington Department of Natural Resources said this season is likely to be worse than average, making this weekend critical for safe fire practices.

"The key thing people don't do is put a trail around your fire," said Gifford.

Putting a trail or a ring around any fire helps prevent the fire from spreading.

Other things to consider?

"The wind change. Our weather patterns change very quickly," said Gifford. "It can be calm like it is today, the afternoon all of a sudden the wind picks up and we get a hail storm the wind picks up and takes that fire and all of a sudden we have a wildfire."

Leaving a fire when it's still hot or burning can be another issue. If you are leaving a fire behind remember these three things:

"Drown, stir and feel," said Gifford. "You pour water, you take your shovel and you stir, and then you feel with the back of your hands to make sure it's cool to the touch with the back of your hand."

If a fire is caused by human negligence, the state can seek cost recovery, which can get really expensive really fast!

"If it's a small fire, we might spend $20,000," said Gifford. "And people will say that's a lot of money, and yes, but if it had gotten bigger we would have spend millions."

The Department of Natural Resources advises anyone going camping to call 1-800-323-BURN to check on burning conditions.