Recipe for fire disaster: Heat, little rain, 4th of July holiday

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 3 at 11:25 AM

Wildfire forecasters are worried about the combination of hot, dry conditions and the 4th of July weekend.

"Conditions have dried out, especially for the fine fuels like grasses and shrubs, and fire season, normally we are looking forward to summer getting started, well fire season and summer is here, already,” said Ted Buehner, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NOAA.

Last year our fire season didn't get going until weeks later, and then escalated in August with the Taylor Bridge Fire near Cle Elum.
  
This year, experts say we should expect above normal heat and fire danger for the rest of this month and most of the summer.

Forest Service researcher David Peterson says big fires need small fuels.

"And we're especially concerned about the smaller fuels, say about three inches in diameter or less because those are the ones that burn most actively during a wildfire,” he said.

That's what happened last year in Kitittas County. Peterson explains that years of preventing fires has actually left the forest floor littered with those small fuels.

And as meteorologists explain, don't look for any help from the weather.

"But it still looks dry and it still looks like temperatures at or above normal pretty all through the month of July,” said Buehner.

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