Washington saw the least acres burned in a decade this year and that comes after the second- and third-worst fire seasons on record in 2020 and 2021.
On Friday, state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz announced that “just” over 140,000 acres have been touched by wildfires this year.
That’s compared to nearly half a million acres in 2021 and 842,000 acres burned in 2020.
Franz took office after some of the most catastrophic wildfires in state history. Early on she touted the benefits of controlled burns, and “treating” forests by thinning brush, trimming branches and removing dying trees.
The Department of Natural Resources has tracked more than 400,000 acres of completed treatments, and about 70,000 acres of prescribed burns in Central and Eastern Washington since January 2017, according to DNR officials.
On Friday, Franz said crews were able to keep more than 94% of fires to 10 acres or less.
While the tone was celebratory at the wildfire briefing in Tumwater, Thurston County, Franz said the Bolt Creek wildfire was a reminder that fire “doesn’t see boundaries.”
“This is a reminder that this isn’t an issue just for Eastern Washington,” Franz said Friday. “It’s an entire Washington state issue.”
But, as seen in previous years, the bulk of the acres burned were on the east side of the Cascades. As of Friday, Department of Natural Resources crews had responded to 13,166 acres burned on the west and 61,649 acres on the east.
The Bolt Creek fire started Sept. 10 just north of Skykomish. The fire ignited early that day and spread rapidly to 7,600 acres by the next day. As of Friday afternoon, the fire was nearly 13,000 acres and 36% contained, according to DNR.
Tim McKern, of Quilcene Fire Rescue, said crews continue to allow the Bolt Creek fire to burn because of the unsafe terrain.