Wildfire danger ‘a month ahead of normal’

Scarce rainfall over the past month could signal the start of an early wildfire season east of the Cascades.
   The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the eastern half of Washington has dried up about four weeks sooner than usual. Earlier this week, the National Weather Service issued a “red flag warning” signifying high fire risk from northern Oregon to Chelan County.
   A significant wildfire raged for several days this week just west of Bend. The Two Bulls Fire, first spotted June 7, burned more than 6,000 acres and prompted the evacuation of 50 homes.
   A Forest Service spokesperson said, “We’re about a month ahead of normal fire conditions” in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Last month, while overseeing a controlled burn near Cle Elum, Kittitas County Fire District 7 Chief Russ Hobbs said national fire agencies are predicting dryer and warmer conditions all summer.
   Northwest residents must be vigilant in preventing fires, particularly in the dry eastern counties. PEMCO continues to urge rural residents to follow simple Firewise practices that can protect their property from wildfire.

by  Jon Osterberg

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