WENATCHEE - Another active fire season is nearly over in Washington state, and once again there were plenty of lives, livelihoods and homes that found themselves in the path of nature’s fury.
Since the number of seasonal wildfires began to increase in the 1990’s and more people have moved into areas at greater risk for fire, the number of structures lost to these fires has been consistently up-and-down.
Carol Connolly with the Northwest Coordination Center tells iFIBER ONE News that large wildfires are categorized as anything which burns more than 100 acres of timber and more than 300 acres of grassland. She indicated that Washington’s large fires of 2017 claimed a total of 10 residences, 35 minor structures and two commercial buildings. Losses associated with this season’s wildfires were lower for minor structures at 28, and commercial buildings which saw no losses, however, there was a substantial uptick in the number of residences claimed by the fires of 2018 at 26, including the Buckshot Fire in mid-July near Mattawa which torched ten homes alone.
Connolly indicates that the severity, frequency and total number of wildfires in a season can all play a part in statistical loss data and that great strides have been made in protecting all structures from the threat of wildfire thanks in large part to both improvements in firefighting coordination efforts and new protective technologies.
Aerial support for suppression has become more available to many agencies that work to contain wildfire and advancements like the aluminum shielding wrap produced by Colorado-based Firezat have greatly assisted in the effort to minimize structure loss to wildfire.
This year’s nationwide wildfire structure loss stats are expected to be quite grim, however, due in large part to California’s Carr and Mendocino Complex Fires, which collectively destroyed over 8,800 homes and 329 known commercial properties, as well as killing nine people, including four firefighters.