Extra wildfire resources, thanks to HB 1168, have already paid off

SPOKANE, Wash. — At the Williams Lake Fire, 11 miles southeast of Cheney, firefighters continue to make progress on containment. This was one of the first big wildfires in our region, but there was a quick response and an increase in resources this time around.

House Bill 1168 was passed this year and we’re told, it’s already made a difference. That bill not only brought in more firefighters to fight the wildfires, but also an increase in the resources to fight them.

RELATED: Evacuations expanded for people living near Williams Lake fire

“It’s remained in its footprint overnight. Haven’t gained too much acreage. Probably sitting at about 3000 even actually,” explained Corey Pries, a firefighter with South Puget Sound DNR.

Pries was hard at work on the Williams Lake fire in the overnight hours.

“So I drove around and monitored all the structures and what, not that were within the fire perimeter and tied in with a lot of homeowners and assured them their homes are safe now,” Pries told us.

He’s done this for a while, but this year he’ll have a few more helping hands in battling the fire. With HB 1168, they have a handful more firefighters currently, and the capacity to hire a total of 100 more.

“We’ve already been able to see what the increased firefighters as well as the increased resources in the air. The ability to get into these fires even more quickly and contain them” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

For the Williams Lake Fire, in particular, the heavy 4 engine tanker they used played a key role in getting them ahead, making for a fast response. So far this year, there have been 293 fires, but only 4 significant ones. Commissioner Franz says that’s because of the initial attack, and getting to them before they get too large.

RELATED: Wind has settled during day 3 of the crews battling Williams Lake Fire

All of these resources make the work much more manageable for firefighters, like Corey.

“We can’t always get to the fired edge initially so having a big plane to have a little plane to lead out in front of it, they can hit that indirect area more out in the wildland area than we can,” he told us.

Meanwhile, the DNR is urging us all to use extreme responsibility to prevent wildfires, especially at this point in the season.