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How to help prevent wildfires on Washington’s roads

Making sure your vehicle is maintained is one good way to help prevent wildfires on Washington's roads.

Firefighters across Washington battled nearly 900 wildfires by the end of July. Several of those fires shut down sections of Interstate 90, the state’s main east and west roadway.

The Kittitas County Fire Protection District is sharing several tips to help prevent wildfires on I-90 and other roadways as fire season becomes more of a year-round event in the west.

Before hitting the road, you should make sure your vehicle is properly maintained with nothing hanging off or dragging on the roadway. Dragging metal or chains can create sparks which can ignite dry leaves or brush.

The fire protection district says hitting a bump in the road could make your tire compress if they are not properly pressurized. When that happens, your wheel could hit the ground and throw sparks and start a fire.

Related | In Washington, wildfire season is year round

Letting your brakes wear too thin can cause metal on metal contact which will also create sparks when traveling at high speeds.

Finally, don’t drive or park on dry grass. The heat from under the vehicle can start fires “that you won’t see until it’s too late,” according to the fire protection district. Having a fire extinguisher in your vehicle is a good idea in case of an emergency.

Also see | ‘The state has become a tinderbox’: Hot temperatures feed fire danger

The Washington State Patrol is also reminding drivers that tossing a cigarette from your vehicle could bring you a $1,025 fine. If the cigarette sparked a fire, those fire-fighting costs and damages could also be passed along.

If you spot a wildfire, please call 911 immediately.

Click here for more fire prevention tips from the Washington Department of Natural Resources.