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Even with rain in Washington forecast, firefighters say season not yet over

by Steve McKarron, KOMO-TV (Seattle) |

SUMNER, Wash. – Firefighters are urging you not to let your guard down even with rain in the forecast over the coming days.

At least five large wildfires are still burning across Washington right now, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources' Fire Dashboard, and fuels are still extremely dry across the region.

"Don’t let your guard down. Just ’cause it rains a little bit this weekend, don’t go out and start any bonfires or campfires," said Bud Backer, Chief of East Pierce Fire and Rescue. "It’s still gonna be dangerous. And it’ll only take a day or two for things to dry out again.”

Backer says firefighters hope to fully contain the Sumner Grade Fire soon. It's currently 95 percent contained after burning nearly 500 acres.

Firefighters say devastating wildfires like the Sumner Grade Fire are still a very real possibility even with rain in the forecast this weekend.

Backer says winds may have calmed and temperatures may have dropped across the region since last week, but everyone should still be extremely cautious.

"There’s that concern of what’s next," Backer told KOMO News. "Even if we get some rain this weekend, it’ll only take a few days of dryness for the grasses and everything to dry back out again.”

The Cold Springs Fire that’s charred nearly 190,000 acres in Okanogan County is now 80 percent contained.

The Big Hollow Fire that's burning northeast of Vancouver, Wash., is only 15 percent contained.

The Cold Creek Fire has burned approximately 252 acres near White Pass. It's currently only 5 percent contained.

"Just because we’re getting in towards October and fall months doesn’t mean we can’t have another dry snap of offshore flow that can push the fire danger right back up to extreme really, really quickly," said Vaughn Cork, Fuels Analyst for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

"We won’t see any major gains in the heavy stuff for several weeks. It takes a long time of sustained cool damp weather with some precipitation to really have an impact on those heavier fuels and soils out there."