Brush fires still a concern in Kitsap County

It didn’t take long Tuesday morning for four different brush fires to catch blaze in north Kitsap County, calling in crews from three local agencies to battle the flames.

Poulsbo, Central Kitsap and Navy Region Northwest fire department units headed off the heat within 10 minutes of arriving on scene.

All four fires, investigated by the Kitsap County Fire Marshal, were started on the west side of Viking Way, threatening two nearby homes.

Though it was a quickly quelled sizzle, area officials say brush fires are still serious business.

Despite Kitsap’s wealth of rain, the incidents aren’t uncommon, and are usually preventable by a little extra human attention.

“Most (brush fires) in this area are not from natural causes,” said PFD Battalion Chief Jim Gillard. “Almost all of ours are due to human activity.”

With this weekend’s forecasted high temperature warnings, Michele Laboda, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s spokesperson, warns residents to take extra care.

“We remind everyone there is no outdoor burning and to refrain from throwing anything on fire on the ground or out of cars,” Laboda said, adding concerns of cigarette butts, Friday night beach fires and even hot exhaust from vehicles, lawn mowers and other heavy equipment.

“Heated exhaust can touch dry grass and start a flame,” she said.

Unlike Eastern Washington, which suffers from hazards of a dryer climate, here inappropriate and careless burning — including that of prohibited materials like plastics — near natural vegetative areas is a concoction for trouble, one partially leading to burn bans going into effect, said Gillard.

“It seems that it’s been a quieter summer for brush fires for us but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have the most dangerous one tomorrow with the right fire source. It’s dry out there,” she said, adding that although Washington sees more rain than California, the same potential for a catastrophic wildland fire exists here.

Gillard added while quick response to a fire can help, people need to keep their priorities straight when faced with the danger before stepping into action.

“They need to remember that their life and the safety of people is more important than anything,” he said.

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