State officials warn that Washington could be in for a fire season that eclipses records set in 2015 and 2014. That means fire prevention needs to be on everyone’s mind — and not just on the east side of the state.

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Summer began last week, but this year’s wildfire season already looks like it is shaping up to be dire.

State officials are warning that Washington could be in for a fire season that eclipses records set in 2015 and 2014, the two most devastating fire seasons in state history.

The high number of fires sparked so far this year means Washington residents — both on the east side and west side of the state — need to take extra precautions.

That means being extra careful with or not setting off fireworks; keeping a close eye on power tools that can send sparks flying; and thoroughly putting out campfires or burn piles that can turn into unruly infernos if left unchecked.

About three-fourths of fires are human-caused, meaning people play a vital role in prevention.

Yet more fires started between January and June of 2018 than during the same period of any year in the past decade, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

As of last week, 82 fires had ignited in Western Washington so far this year, along with 246 fires on the east side of the state.

Compare that to 2015, the worst fire season in state history: Only 69 fires were reported in Western Washington by June 20 of that year, along with 219 fires in Eastern Washington.

Residents should take special care any time they are burning debris, ensuring they call 800-323-BURN (2876) or visit the DNR website for up-to-date warnings and instructions for their area. Those setting a fire or using power tools should wait until winds die down, while keeping plenty of water handy to quickly extinguish runaway flames.

The warm, dry weather in May helped create conditions in which a small spark or ember can quickly turn into a full-on wildfire.

But that doesn’t absolve all of us from doing our part to avoid creating another season of destructive blazes.