OLYMPIA – The first weekend in May is not usually a busy time for fire suppression forces in southwest Washington, but this past weekend saw an unusually high number of wildfires due to dry east winds across this area. To date, 11 wildfires covering approximately 264 acres were reported statewide, with 9 already successfully contained by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) wildfire suppression team.
DNR firefighting crews continue working to contain the Dog Mountain Wildfire and the C-Line Wildfire, the largest and most challenging wildfires started this weekend. All of the wildfires reported this weekend are under investigation.
“As the state’s wildfire suppression agency, DNR has been preparing for months for the beginning of wildfire season, so we were able to quickly, safely, and effectively respond to the unexpectedly high number of wildfires this weekend,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who administers DNR. “Under the dry and windy conditions prevailing across much of the state, we advise all Washingtonians to exercise caution with any activities that could start wildfires, such as starting campfires or burning debris.”
Dog Mountain Fire – Lewis County
The Dog Mountain Wildfire was reported in the early afternoon of May 4, 2013. It has burned approximately 100 acres within a 170-acre area of forestland near the eastern end of Riffe Lake in Lewis County. It is 50 percent contained, and approximately 80 people continue to be assigned to it, under a Type 3 organization lead by Incident Commander Charley Burns. The fire is burning in a recently logged area and 8-year-old forest plantation owned by the Port Blakely Tree Farms.
Bulldozers, fire engines, and water-dropping helicopters are employed in the task of extinguishing this fire that was initially fanned and spread by dry east winds. Steep terrain increases the challenge of reaching pockets of burning material.
Crews continue to construct containment lines and mop-up where possible. The cause of the fire is under investigation. No structures are threatened and no homes have been evacuated.
C-Line Fire – Grays Harbor And Thurston Counties In Capitol Forest
The C-Line Wildfire was reported in the early morning May 5, 2013. Approximately 8 miles northwest of Littlerock, the fire has burned 60 acres on state trust lands that contain logging slash and 20-year-old trees. It was 6 percent contained as of noon Monday, with the goal of reaching 50 percent containment by the evening.
There are approximately 80 people working under a Type 4 management organization to suppress this fire. The Incident Commander is Kent Stanford. Engines, two helicopters, heavy equipment, and hand crews are on the scene.
The cause of this fire is under investigation. No homes or structures are threatened. Some Capitol State Forest recreation trails and roads in the vicinity of the C-line and C-4000 Roads are closed due to the proximity of the fire and firefighting traffic in the area.
Other Fires Successfully Contained
Several other wildfires received attention over the weekend:
The High Valley Lane fire near Tenino was successfully controlled at 9 acres on Sunday May 5. A barn was threatened by this fire, but rapid response with a firefighting helicopter was effective at protecting all structures in the area.
The East15 Fire (6 acres), a fire near LaCenter (2 acres) and the W-2020 fire, between Mossyrock and Salkum, (1/4 acre) were all successfully controlled.
Rapid attention and excellent cooperation from local fire district staff and volunteers has been vital in the rapid, effective response to these wildfires.
Prevention Of Wildfires Is Important Now
It is critically important that all people who work or recreate in or near forestland be extremely careful with wildfire. Grasses, twigs and shrubs are dry enough to burn and spread wildfires. Extinguish all campfires, use only appropriately equipped recreational vehicles that are in good working order, and never burn debris when it’s windy. Forest landowners depend on people to be careful with fire and to assist by calling 911 to report any wildfires or suspicious behavior they observe.
The cause of wildfires is normally investigated by the Department of Natural Resources. Causal information is very important to inform future fire prevention strategies. Moreover, if criminal or negligent human behavior contributed to the cause of a specific fire, then legal enforcement actions are taken, including potentially seeking the recovery of fire suppression costs.
Stay Connected During Wildfire Season
DNR’s Wildfire Mission
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.9 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state's largest on-call fire department, with over 1,000 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, Department of Corrections’ adult offenders and Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration juvenile offenders participate in the DNR correctional camps program. DNR also participates in Washington's coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.