Heavy vegetation from recent rain causing concern for firefighters

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:29 PM PDT
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CLARK COUNTY, Wash. (KPTV) – This year the Portland/Vancouver metro area has seen a lot more rainfall than it did last year in 2021. However, firefighters warn, looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to fighting wildfires.

“The rain is deceptive because we’ve been getting a lot of it this Spring so it lulls you into that sense of security that oh, it’s not going to catch on fire,” David Schmitke, from the Clark County Fire Department District 6, said.

He explained that vegetation like this only takes a couple of days to dry out.

“Where we’re standing right now if the spigot were shut off say Monday, by Friday, this would be a fuel load, this would be a hazard,” he said.

Last Summer there was a brush fire near Klineline Pond that Schmitke said was very dangerous.

“It was difficult to get to, it was right next to the freeway, practically under it, number of structures nearby so that one just in a matter of minutes just really took off,” he said.

That is why he said creating defensible space around your home and maintaining areas like this are crucial.

“Look at your environment and say if there were a fire would it get up to the lower limbs of those shrubs, would it get up to that tree?” he said.

There are two zones that you need to be aware of when creating defensible space. Zone 1 is the area that’s between 5 and 30 feet from your home. It should be cleaned, waters and have a limited amount of plants. There should be no firewood or fuel piles. Zone 2 is the area that’s between 30 and 100 feet away from your home. You should keep grass in this area mowed below four inches and separate shrubs and trees to keep them from touching.

“If you think that it can burn especially when the grass dries out or other fuel loads then do something about it because you’re probably right,” Schmitke said.