Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


A week of record-setting extreme heat followed by a week forecast to be hot, but not quite as extreme, with wind is a recipe for wildfire risk.

Now, toss in a national holiday that traditionally features fireworks. This qualifies as a frightening scenario.

Fire hazard tends to be high in July, but heading into this weekend’s Fourth of July celebration, it may be the highest seen in recent history for this time of year.

Over the years, this county has revamped its restrictions to prohibit the use of personal fireworks. Fireworks are prohibited on public lands, such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Department of Natural Resources. Almost all the municipalities have standing restrictions (with New Year’s Eve exemptions). Kittitas County has the ability to restrict each year based on conditions — this year the county has opted to prohibit fireworks. The only jurisdiction that otherwise allows fireworks each year is the city of Kittitas.

People can be stubborn about fireworks restrictions — feeling that on Independence Day they should be independent from such rules.

But no reasonable person should ignite something that sets sparks off across the landscape at this moment in Kittitas County. The level of irresponsibility for that behavior would be as high as the fire risk level — extreme.

The risk is so high that Patriot Night Under the Lights is canceling its pubic fireworks aerial show. The big public shows are great alternative to personal fireworks, but it even those are not worth the risk this year.

We are all well aware of how quickly a wildfire can start and spread — Sunday’s fire east of Kittitas was a prime example.

Sunday’s fire also served as a reminder of what is put at risk in these fires — something more than the landscape, outbuildings and homes.

In commenting on the work to protect homes in the area of the fire (one was lost) Inspector Chris Whitsett of the Kittitas Sheriff’s Office explained how it was done.

“We want people to understand that (Sunday), the way those houses got saved, was because firefighters put themselves and their bodies in between the houses and the fire,” Whitsett said. “It’s an extremely dangerous and uncomfortable situation.”

On this, the 20th anniversary of the ThirtyMile Fire in which four fight fighters, including Roslyn native Tom Craven, were killed we should not take the risk these fire fighters face lightly.

This Fourth of July may be quieter than usual, but if going without the sound of fireworks means hearing fewer fire engine sirens, it will be well worth it.

Recommended for you

Comments

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.