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caption: The Red Apple fire burns near Wenatchee on July 14, 2021.
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The Red Apple fire burns near Wenatchee on July 14, 2021.
Credit: Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Washington wildfires already draining resources. 'We can't afford to have any spark out there'

Washington firefighters have already responded to more than 900 fires this year, and officials are expecting much more in the months ahead.

That's according to the state's Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz who says this is just the beginning of what is already proving to be an especially devastating wildfire season.

"I think the thing that is most scary about this is that we are in the middle of July," Franz said. "I might be doing this interview with you, in previous years, late August. But it wouldn't have even been that dire."

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She notes the majority of western states — including California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Arizona and Nevada — are all also dealing with hot, dry conditions, and fighting their own severe wildfires.

"By this time, California and some of our southwest states may be struggling. But you wouldn't have a large part of the western United States struggling."

And that means states will have fewer resources to share when their neighbors need reinforcements. Franz is asking everyone to do their part and "be one less spark out there."

The Red Apple Fire in Chelan County has already burned through more than 11,000 acres and was only 10% contained as of Friday morning.

It's believed to have been sparked by a woodpile burn despite a statewide burn-ban.

Franz says that's becoming all too common.

"So, we're finding year after year more fires being started by debris piles — 2020 was an example where it more than doubled in the first part of the year," she says. "We can't afford to have any spark out there, because what would be a very small fire maybe historically has now become thousands of acres."