Discovering Fire in our Forests

Written & Photographed by Brian Mize, Field Forester

Recently, I was traveling through our Central Cascades lands, noticed a strong odor and saw a small amount of smoke approximately 200’ off the road.  I am very familiar with this particular location because it has been a popular spot with the local firewood poachers.

I hiked off the road and found a campfire that had escaped the ring and burned a small area.  At that time, the fire was just smoldering and there was nobody around. 

Acting quickly, I called the Central Washington Interagency Communication Center in Wenatchee, and they sent out the dispatch to any local fire engines.  A Forest Service engine was the first to respond and arrived shortly after.  They ran a quick hose line to the fire and extinguished all the heat and put a hand line around the burned area. Afterwards, a Dept. of Natural Resources engine arrived along with a DNR law enforcement officer. 

This was clearly a human caused fire, but we did not find any evidence that could pinpoint any specific individuals.  There was evidence of recent firewood theft in the immediate vicinity.

Overall, this ended up being a small incident; however, if I had not spotted this fire when I did, it could have developed into something greater in scope.  This area is very brushy, steep, and the high temps that day were above 90 degrees.  With a little wind, this fire had high potential for spread.

We love that we can provide as much access to the outdoors as possible to our local communities with our lands. It was a good reminder that although fire season has been off to a slow start this summer, we still have a long way to go. 

Learn about Fire adapted Communities

Wildfire Smoke from Space

Graphics by Erica Simek Sloniker, Conservation Information Manager

These Washington wildfires are now the largest in state’s history. Check out these NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration maps that capture the past week in smoke from space in the slideshow above, then explore Washington State University’s smoke projection mapping tool!