July fire season in June

July fire season in June »Play Video
TRI-CITIES -- A number of recent brush fires has local fire district treating early June like it's mid-July.

Robert Causey-Andrews is always weary of fire season.
It wasn't that long ago that a brush fire destroyed his home.

"You lose everything. You gotta start all over," he says.

Robert's grateful his family was okay.

"The fire department, they were there for us. They're there for our safety and made sure everybody was out of the house," he added.

It's stories like this that only fan the flames when we asked firefighters how they've been fighting an early fire season.

"Summer got here a litter earlier than usual," Says Captain Devin Helland, who volunteers for Benton County Fire District 1.

He says the fire danger is already elevated to levels not usually seen until mid-summer. And while school may be out -- it's still technically the spring. The risky conditions prompted local fire chiefs to raise their dispatch level for brush-fires. They immediate send additional crews to cover a brush fire. And if you thought our recent rain helped douse the fires -- think again.

"All the rain did in the past few weeks we've had is grow the fuel. It didn't do anything to stop fires or anything," Devin says.

Benton County Fire recruited eight additional firefighters for the season. Devin says it's a drop in the bucket:

"We're still about 30 to 40 guys short."

That's scary news for people like Robert -- but he has faith firefighters are looking out for him.

"They get on it as soon as they get the call and they take care of it," he says.

But even those crews are expecting a wild ride in fire season 2013.

Firefighters say the elevated dispatch level means they immediately send out twice the number of units to a wild-fire. They tell us it's been several years since they used a higher dispatch level this early in the season.