The July 7th front page story about the 46,621-acre range fire in Grant County, Wash., reveals some serious issues.
I live 15 air miles from the fire and stayed on high alert for days. The record spring rains have left the range with huge amounts of dried dead weeds and grass. We receive virtually no rain from June to October. The first observers of fires are the local ranchers and farmers. They are familiar with the land, wind currents, water sources, and who has available bulldozers and road graders. These initial minutes after a range fire is started are critical in containing it, minimizing damages and putting it out.
The problem of blocking local ranchers from initial action is well defined in your article. The various fire districts, state fire agencies and U.S. Forest Service arrive late and spend time debating who is in charge, what is the plan, and where the district lines are. The lost rangeland, dead cattle, and cattle grazing areas can bankrupt a rancher. Luckily, no lives were lost in this instance. Historically that is not always the case.
Once the fires are out and fall rains arrive, mud slides blocking roads can be a common occurrence.
I find it hard to believe county, state and federal agencies cannot come together and amicably solve this problem. The 2017 fire season has months yet to run.
Soap Lake, Wash.