by Jack Russillo
Washington’s 2021 fire season has already begun and forecasts are saying that it could be just as bad as — and potentially worse than — the 2020 season that saw nearly a million acres burn and more incidents of wildfire than the historic 2015 fire season.
In the latest session, the State Legislature passed House Bill 1168 that will allocate more than $125 million over the next two years to firefighting and forest restoration efforts across the state to tackle wildfires, an increasingly destructive issue for Washingtonians on the west side of the Cascades, even in urban areas. In recent decades, more people have moved into forestlands, and this creates more challenges for responding to wildfires on the borders of urban areas, the bill says.
“Because the climate is changing, we in western Washington are experiencing a drier climate and we’ve had wildland fires in March, which is pretty much unheard of,” said Battalion Chief Brian Dodge of the Puget Sound Fire Authority. “It’s an issue that everyone here on the west side needs to be aware of. And because of the milder winters and the warmer summers, it’s going to continue. It’s all about climate change. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it’s happening. Because our weather is changing, it puts us at greater risk for these fires. And because we haven’t had these fires regularly, which leaves a lot of dead and down fuel on the ground, which puts us at risk for more intense wildfires.”Continue reading More Wildfires in Western Washington Spur Increased Firefighting Funding and Training