New base in Olympia will improve response to growing number wildfires in western Washington

  • Source: KING-TV NBC 5 Seattle
  • Published: 08/25/2021 12:00 AM

About one-third of the 1,600 wildfires reported in Washington state started west of the Cascades. Now, for the first time, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is basing an air tanker, along with other aircraft, at the Olympia Airport so crews can fight those fires on the side of the state that’s most associated with rain, but where summers have become drier. "Over the last five to ten years we’ve really seen the fire behavior change, the fuel models change,” said Scott Neves, fire chief for Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue based in Kelso in southwest Washington. Labor Day week of 2020 saw a 20,000-acre fire in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest that didn’t receive nearly as much media coverage as wildfires in Oregon that burned through entire neighborhoods and into the greater Portland metro area.


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