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Hot weather raising wildfire risk

As a heat wave begins in Washington, the fire danger is rising.

The cool, wet spring meant a late start to summer weather.

The grasses that grew well are now drying out, and some will soon be ready to burn.

“These light fuels, with a little bit of wind, all they need is an ignition source,” said Lt. Cody Turcotte of Eastside Fire and Rescue. “We’re starting to see that uptick, the bark fires, the light flashy fuels along the side of the road.”

Last week, firefighters put out a brush fire in Auburn and another in Arlington.

Washington’s largest fire so far this year was the Stayman Flats Fire near Chelan.

Compared to recent years, what’s remarkable is how few acres have burned in Washington.

“We’ve had one fire (burning) 1,200 acres, that’s amazing,” said Matthew Dehr, a wildfire meteorologist with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

He predicts after our cool, wet spring, fire season is about to truly arrive.

“Fire danger is going to be creeping up this week,” Dehr said.

Right now, it’s considered moderate in most of Western Washington and high or very high in Eastern Washington.

Dehr will watch for fires east of the Cascades at the end of this week and into the weekend after potential mountain thunderstorms and late-week winds.

In Western Washington, big trees are still relatively moist.

“We’re not expecting large, costly fires west of the Cascades in the next seven to 10 days,” Dehr said.

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