Firefighters bracing for wildfires as temps, winds increase

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash -- The National Weather Service said the hot, dry weather could mean an increased risk of wildfires for all of Washington state. That’s because wind will also be a factor in the next few days.

So far, this year’s fire season is off to a slow start compared to 2015, but state wild land officials are concerned that any stray spark or flame could quickly turn a small fire into a major one.

“We are ready for any kind of urban interface wildfire scenario here,” said Ted Buehner with NOAA.

Officials said this week’s weather forecast doesn’t look good, and the threat of wildfires is real. Nearly everything around us is dry, and ready to burn.

“That little fire will suddenly fan the flames and spread elsewhere, hopefully not into neighborhoods,” said Buehner.

But that’s exactly what nearly happened in a Snohomish County neighborhood just east of Everett last July.

Fire crews scrambled to knock down a stubborn wildfire that broke out behind several homes.

Now forecasters are warning the same hot, dry and windy conditions coming Thursday could mean trouble – and officials are warning everyone to be careful with open flames.

“Everybody needs to follow suit on this,” said Buehner. “This is not the time to do any outdoor burning or use of fireworks, things like that. With the wind it can spread very rapidly.”

“Be smart about everything,” said homeowner Joe Kraus.

Kraus remembers last year’s fire season and the fire that erupted in his neighborhood last July.

“Fire marshals knocking on our door and saying, 'Well, pack a bag just in case,'” Krause recalled.

To prevent new wildfires from torching your house, said now is the time for homeowners to create defensible spaces.

Make sure you remove dead plants from the yard – and remove leaves and other debris from the roof and gutters.

And don’t let the grass grow too high, 4 inches tall is as high as it should get.

Plus, it’s a good idea to trim or remove plants and grasses around and under decks – it’s the perfect place for a wildfire to spread to your home.

Forecasters said they need everyone’s help to keep wildfires to a minimum.

“We’re going to heat up things in the next few days and even throw some wind in and it’s really a recipe for wildfire here,” said Buehner.

Snohomish County has issued a fire ban and so has the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Officials said the biggest risk for sparking fires in the next few says could likely come from people being careless.