Local firefighters help others brace for thunderstorms

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by HONORA SWANSON & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 1 at 11:37 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Local firefighters geared up Wednesday to help out in other parts of the state ahead of storms and potential fires.

With dry grass spreading across the Columbia Basin, agencies to the west and south of Spokane County asked for help from local fire crews.  Dry lighting cracking over dry brush increases the risk for wildfires to get out of control.

“Trying to get ahead of the curve,” said Assistant Chief Kevin Von Steuben with Spokane County Fire District 9.  “If anything gets ignited and start running with the dryness they want to have crews positioned so they can get a start on the fire before it gets a run on.”

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have a grant to pay for “Severity Staffing.”  Fire District 9 decided to send three people and equipment to the Tri-Cities.  Fire District 4 sent four firefighters and their equipment.  All seven people will be split from the Tri-Cities and Sprague to Moses Lake.

“That appears to be where the conditions are the ripest for fire starts as well as rapid growth,” said District 4 Chief Randy Johnson.

The forecasted lightning was not expected, necessarily, to cause fires, but having people in place and ready to fight could save money in the long run.

“If there are starts and they're caught small, it will be a very small investment in saving a lot of dollars from a large fire,” Chief Johnson added.

The firefighters sent to the Columbia Basin were expected to return Friday, after the threat had passed.

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