SPOKANE, Wash. — As wildfire season continues, fire crews are already preparing for next year and they say right now is the perfect time to do so.

In preparation for the 2019 wildfire season, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is working with landowners to thin trees. This will reduce the intensity of wildfires next year.

Guy Gifford with DNR for the Northeast region said damage from the summer heat has lasted. Dry needles from the trees can still be dangerous, which is why many burn bans are still in place.

Gifford also said this wildfire season has not been easy. In the Northeast Region, there were about 469 fire starts compared to an average of 399 for years past. Human-caused fires and fires caused by lightning also increased.

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Just by luck, many fires in the Northeast region were near water. This made it easier for fire bosses to travel from lakes or rivers to fires.

Now we find ourselves in fall, which means things are slowing down but not over yet.

"Yes, we have cooler temperatures," Gifford said. "What is benefiting us right now is longer evenings. Our burn window is shorter now. Because of the longer evenings [there is] shorter daylight, so that's helping us out to keep these fires small and reduce the starts because it is not hot as long in the day. But if things ignite, look at the ground. It's still very very dry out there so any spark can still start a fire."

Gifford said there are more fire engines than there were five years ago, air assets have improved, and coordination between Washington and Idaho has also made efforts more effective.