OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today released a snapshot of the number of wildfires and acres burned on state and private lands that the department protects. Initial attack by DNR and its partners, with the aid of favorable wind conditions, have kept wildfire damage lower than average despite a higher than usual number of wildfires.
According to the data, the end of the July and first part of August often see an increase in wildfire outbreaks. Continued heat and dry conditions on both sides of the Cascades are expected to substantially increase fire risk levels in the next few days.
“DNR crews and the federal and local agencies we work with on wildfire need people throughout Washington to focus on fire safety. The coming days and weeks could be our biggest test yet of 2009,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Our success to date has been because of the dedicated efforts of DNR employees and the firefighting staff of our federal and local partners.”
There have been 698 wildfires on the 12.7 million acres of public and private lands DNR protects from wildfire. In a typical year, only 464 fires would typically occur by this point in the fire season, which began April 15.
Although there have been 50 percent more fires than usual this year, only 3,600 acres have been burned, compared with 6,339 acres at this point in a typical year.
DNR’s wildfire mission Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.7 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands in Washington. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 375 seasonal workers. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.