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Central Washington fire officials prepare for potentially explosive fire season

The east side of Washington state currently has the highest risk for fire danger.

CHELAN, Wash. — After an explosive fire season last year, fire officials in Washington state are bracing for another rough season, with this week’s hot, dry weather adding to the risk.

According to officials, fire danger is the highest on the east side of the cascades.

Chelan Fire and Rescue Chief Mark Donnell said 2020 was one of the worst fire seasons they have seen across the state and in Chelan.

One of the concerns his fire district is facing is the number of newcomers visiting Chelan.

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Donnell explained more people than ever traveled to the area because of pandemic restrictions limiting travel options out of state, and as the pandemic is coming to an end, Chelan is a hot spot for weekend getaways.

This causes concern because many of the people coming to visit might not be as versed in fire safety as other visitors or residents.

Donnell said this season is deceptively dangerous for fires because the landscape does not really look as dry as it is.

“Not only is the grass getting dry, but also some of the shrub and shading stuff around here, and it just makes it even more flammable,” explained Donnell. “So, I always tell people, just please be careful, come on halfway and enjoy yourself. But, you know, be take responsibility for what you're doing and just be careful.”

Chelan put a burn ban in place on June 1, 2020, that is expected to remain in effect until at least October.