More than 24 wildfires reported in western Washington this week

RANDLE, Wash. -- A wildfire is burning on 18 acres in eastern Lewis County, threatening several homes, firefighters said.

Valley Regional Fire said on Twitter that Valley Regional wildfire team has been deployed, along with other agencies from the South Sound.

If this week is any indication, Washington could be in for another record-breaking wildfire season.

On Wednesday, state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said firefighters have responded to 24 wildfires this week in western Washington, an uncommon occurrence this early in the year.

Last year, the Department of Natural Resources responded to more than 1,850 wildfires, a record number, that burned about 440,000 acres. Wildfires are typically more common on the east side of the Cascades, where the climate is drier, but western Washington saw a big increase in wildfires last year.

As the state’s population grows, more than 2.2 million homes now lie in the potential path of wildfires, according to a recent U.S. Forest Service study.

Franz's office has drafted a 10-year plan to strengthen the state's wildfire fighting abilities, including adding 30 full-time and 40 seasonal firefighters and two helicopters.

Between 2013 and 2018, DNR said it cost an average of $153 million in state and federal money per year to fight wildfires. That period included Washington’s record-setting wildfire seasons in 2014 and 2015.