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Washington fire officials pull together equipment for wildfire season

Kari Greer, U.S. Forest Service/Courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources is getting its engines, planes and other gear in place.

Washington state lands officials say they’re assembling the resources they may need to fight wildfires this summer.

Angie Lane from the Department of Natural Resources says her agency has 120 fire engines and air tankers ready to move around the state. It’s also arranging for bulldozers and other heavy equipment.

She says the state will also reply on partnerships it has developed with firefighting agencies at the local, federal and tribal levels.

“We have this thing, we call it the Northwest Compact agreement. It’s with five western states and five provinces and territories in Canada. That allows us to bring in additional assets if we need them," Lane said. "And then we’re a partner in the operational plan for the Hands Across the Border agreement, a federal agreement with B.C. And then we’re in the process of developing other state-to-state agreements. Last year we had personnel from North Carolina here.

“We’re pretty comfortable right now with what we have and we’re poised to bring in more if we need to, using the agreements we have in place and then also the ordering system through our national and regional dispatch centers," she said.

Fire officials have had time this spring to put everything together. The fire season has moved slowly. Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says her crews have responded to fewer than 80 fires this year, far fewer than last year. She says 95% of those fires burned 10 acres or less.

DNR meteorologist Matt Dehr says the wet, cold spring has reduced the fire danger all around the state, but especially in western Washington.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.