Washington wildfire season now worst in history; smoke, haze impacting firefight

Washington has now endured more than 1,100 wildfires in 2018, marking the most ever in a wildfire season.

And new projections show this wildfire season will likely last longer than usual.  All the smoke and haze from the wildfires are also impacting the firefighting on both sides of the Cascades.

“Every day I'm also thinking about the air their breathing,” Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz told KIRO 7.  “And these firefighters do not have masks like a typical firefighter.”

Franz says the smoke also impacts their ability to attack fires from the air.

“Often times the visibility, especially in the topography where smoke can really get stuck in the lower areas, can make it difficult for our air assets to get in there,” Franz said.  “And we hold back, obviously safety is going to be No. 1.”

Evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday for the Grass Valley Fire in Grant County.  It’s burned more than 75,000 acres.

This wildfire season started early this year with fires in April.  Now it looks like it will go long.

“We usually are seeing a wind down of our fire season at the end of September,” Franz said.  “And we just got an update that we got projections yesterday that this is likely to go well into October.”

This past weekend alone, 70 new fires were started by lightning strikes.

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