It's been a nice long hot summer in the Spokane area, but our perfect weather for boating and swimming has also set the stage for fast moving wildfires.
On Tuesday a fire north of Spangle grew to more than 25 acres in less than an hour and it happened in relatively calm winds. The fire swept through a stand of trees wasn't a wind driven fire and it didn't even have the benefit of burning up hill. What the fire did have going for it was a lot of bone dry fuel and gave fire crews a preview of what's still to come.
Fires that burn up hill, like the recent fire south of Suncrest, move very quickly because the flames are pre-heating the vegetation above. However Tuesday's blaze south of Spangle defied normal fire behavior. Even though it was burning on flat terrain the relatively small fire generated a large column of rising smoke that sucked in even more air to help fan the flames.
"This was flat terrain and the fire was driven by the fuels, that is it had generated enough heat that it was generating its own wind that was pushing the fire and that's indicative of very dry conditions," Andrew Stenbeck with the Department of Natural Resources said.
At the National Weather Service meteorologists say we've reached the peak of our fire season.
"Over the next three weeks we are typically at one of the driest part of the year as far as fuels go and any type of lightning activity or any type of windy weather can ignite fires rather quickly," Greg Kock with the National Weather Service in Spokane said.
So far we've had wind and some pretty dramatic lighting storms but they haven't happened at the same time and so firefighters have been able to keep a lid on our fire season, but experts agree the worst of our fire weather is still to come
"Forecast going into the next 10 to 14 days looks like we're going to have some above average temperatures.. We are looking at some lightning activity over the next few days so if we do get some ignitions we could have some issues over the next few weeks," Kock said.
Because the worst fire weather conditions are still ahead, firefighters are urging you to this weekend to get out on your rural property and make sure your home has a defensible space. That means limbing up trees and getting brush and dry grass away from the house before a fire does it for you.