SPOKANE, Wash. - Hot dry weather means an increased chance for wildfires and with the Fourth of July holiday officials are reminding to be careful with fire.
Federal and state agencies are working together to thin out trees and brush to decrease the chance of fires getting out of control, but what these agencies are saying is that it's residents and land owners that play the most important role in keeping everyone safe.
Back in 1991, Firestorm devastated Judy Wisher's property.
"Somebody started a fire and it got away from them because of 45 mile per hour wind and it just came right through and devastated the area. I had a shed in the back there and it was just billowing black smoke, scared me have to death," Wisher said.
So now she doesn't take any chances; Wisher contacted the Department of Natural Resources to come thin the trees around her home.
"In those really thick stands when you have too many trees per acre, you see a much higher potential for extreme fire behavior," Al Crouch, assistant fire manager for the Bureau of Land Management's Spokane District, said.
Now if there is a fire near Wisher's property it will be easier and safer to control.
"When we have extreme fire behavior like that it's very risky for firefighters to enter those areas and put the fires out. So when we go in and clear stands like this your fire behavior will be much lower. It also allows those firefighters to get in quickly and aggressively and most important safely," Crouch said.
The thinning operation doesn't just help with fire prevention, it's good for the forest too.
"There are a lot of diseased trees, a lot of trees that are too close together and we are trying to make it into a healthier forest. by reducing the fire risk and reducing the disease," Crew leader Grey Pickett with the Community Conservation Corps said.
"The goal is to get these small trees to these big trees in the next 40 to 50 years. And without an operation like this in 40 years we will have a dead forest this size instead of a live forest with trees this size," Guy Gifford with the Department of Natural Resources said.
As for Wisher she's just happy to feel safe this fire season.
"A lot safer, yeah, because if a fire came through here now it wouldn't have that much to burn," she said.
This has been a week of remembrance for wildland firefighters to remember those who have gone forward to protect communities and not come home. Having fire safe communities and land owner involvement it a critical piece to keeping you and the firefighters safe.
If you would like to be proactive and get your land cleared you can find more information at dnr.wa.gov.
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