#4ThePeople: We answer your wildfire season questions

Malden devastation
Credit: Whitman County Sheriff's Office

SPOKANE, Wash. — Our blue skies are back and the smoke is gone but Washington is still reeling from one of its worst wildfire seasons last month.

Viewers have asked if these fires were intentionally set or were somehow connected to Antifa or BLM.

Washington Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz tells us multiple investigations are still in the works.

“I know there’s a lot of questions about how these fires got started but we have no evidence that suggest that these were intentionally started,” said Franz.

While it’s true that 90% of wildfires in the state are human caused, this doesn’t mean they’re intentionally set.

“We have a lot of people making guesses and a lot of broad statements,” said Franz. “Some even running for office and it does not help in any way when we have people who are completely removed from the situation and investigation, making accusations or allegations.”

Different agencies are investigating, such as the Department of Natural Resources, local fire districts, sheriffs’ offices and the federal government.

“Right now, we need to let law enforcement do what they do best: which is identify the source of the fire, investigate it and take action,” said Franz.

Viewers have also asked if the spotlight should be on climate change or public land mismanagement when it comes to preventing explosive wildfires.

Commissioner Franz says both are leading to more intense wildfire seasons.

She reveals a majority of the wildfires that burned this year were on federal, private or tribal lands.

While the Department of Natural Resources has developed a plan for wildfire protection and forest health, as well as secured $50 million in wildfire funding for the biennium, Franz says more funding is needed.

“We have the ability to change the trajectory we’re on regarding these catastrophic wildfires, if we can get leadership to step in and truly invest in it at the state and federal level,” said Franz.

Franz says everybody in Washington can do their part by taking steps to make their homes more resilient to fires and by writing to legislators.