SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- The Spokane and Spokane Valley area has been spared from major wildfires since a 1000 acre fire in 2008.
Fire officials said that fast moving wildfires like the Valley View Fire are actually not rare in Spokane and Eastern Washington. They said that they happen on average every six years or so, but fortunately do not always result in a large number of homes lost.
“Through aggressive initial attack, we’ve been able to keep a lot of the fire small, but it’s not to say that we could have another event on that scale if we saw the fuel, weather, and topography line up again,” said Cody Rohrbach from the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
Rohrbach said all it would take is a fire starting in the wrong place at the right time for the flames to get quickly out of hand. He added that it takes several key weather conditions for that to happen: hot, low humidity, and wind.
“When we have trouble catching fire in Spokane and the surrounding area is because there is a wind component,” Rohrbach said. He said the region had around 200 fires break out each year since Valley View. He credited having a large number of resources to fight the fires from keeping them too large.
“But sometimes the wind just overwhelms the local resources,” he added. Rohrbach said current weather conditions are conductive to large fire growth. As things dry out, fire conditions worsen.