Wildfire season ends, fires caused by people way down

Wildfire season ends, fires caused by people way down »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- The start of the cold means the end of wildfire season.

Initially, firefighters expected one of the worst seasons in almost a decade. We learned more acres burned this season -- but the reason for it is encouraging.

Sandy Jackson was one of many people whose homes were threatened by wildfire this year. She lives off Clodfelter Road where a large fire came right up to her back yard.

"I could see flames shooting up and I thought, oh my God, what am I going to do?" she says.

Benton County firefighters managed to save Sandy's home, along with 50 others that were at risk that day. Firefighters say there was no serious damage to crops or property in the Tri-Cities this year.

"It wasn't farmers' crops being burned, it wasn't people's houses being burned, it wasn't people's yards being burned. It was pretty much just wild-land," says Captain Devin Helland with Benton County Fire District 1.

The charred remains on Jump Off Joe and Badger Mountain can still be seen today -- but both were caused by lightning and had no real impact on people or property.

Captain Devin Helland tells me the number of fires blamed on people is down almost 90 percent this summer.

"Last year we had over 20 fires caused by shooting, accidental shooting, what ever you want to call it. This year we had two fires. So big difference there," Captain Helland continued.

Captain Helland says the Benton County Sheriff's office ramped up efforts to keep private county roads off limits to target practice.
He also said community groups helped pick up litter and clear overgrown brush that could create fuel for a fire.

Benton County is still keeping their skills sharp for tackling fires in buildings and homes.
Sandy hopes there won't be a next time for her home.

"If you see that, you can't wait. You just get out," Sandy says.

Firefighters say there were no serious injuries this season either. The only structures that were seriously damaged by fire were out-buildings, like sheds, and fences.