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Kitsap County firefighters pitch in at Eastern Washington wildfires
Several local firefighters have been deployed to assist in the battle against two major wildland fires burning east of the Cascades, North Kitsap Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Michèle Laboda reported.
Dan Smith, NKF&R fire chief and South Puget Sound Fire Resource coordinator, got the request for assistance on Saturday afternoon after Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste authorized mobilization of statewide resources for two blazes which have grown well beyond local agencies’ capabilities.
Both Bainbridge Island Fire Department and NKF&R each sent three firefighters and a brush fire engine to join a King County strike team working on structural protection on the Colockum Tarps fire, 12 miles southeast of Wenatchee, while two additional NKF&R firefighters helped fill out a Pierce County strike team headed to the same incident.
Smith was deployed to the Mile Marker 28 fire near Goldendale, working with Washington State Patrol Mobilization staff assigned to the incident management team. All left Kitsap County on July 27. At least one of the crews was already responsible for saving a house and two outbuildings during their first day on the Colockum Tarps fire line, Laboda reported.
According to the Washington State Patrol: “Under the State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan, the Fire Protection Bureau coordinates the initial dispatch and continued administrative oversight of resources and personnel for the duration of the incident. The Mobilization Plan is implemented to provide a process to quickly notify, assemble and deploy fire service personnel, equipment and other resources from around the state when fires, disasters or other events exceed the capacity of local jurisdictions. More information about the Washington State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan is available at wsp.wa.gov/fire/mobeplan/emobplan.htm.”
Although coordinators make sure that there are adequate resources available locally before sending help to other areas, officials point to this mobilization as yet another reason for Kitsap County’s current outdoor burning ban.
The Kitsap County Fire Marshal implemented a Phase One burn ban effective 12:01 a.m. July 29 until further notice, due to the continuing hot and dry weather.
Under the ban, all burning permits are suspended and outdoor burning (except for recreational or cooking fires under three feet in diameter in contained appliances or fire pits) is prohibited until further notice.
“Outdoor fires are the leading cause of uncontrolled wildfires,” Laboda said. “But they’re not the only cause. With conditions getting drier and resources stretched thinner, we urge everyone to use caution with all ignition sources.”
The firefighters could be deployed as long as 14 days. For updates on the fires, see the InciWeb site for Washington State at www.inciweb.org/state/49 and wasmoke.blogspot.com, a new information blog from the Departments of Ecology and Health, U.S. Forest Service and other participating state, federal, county and Tribal governments.