Gov. Chris Gregoire opens a fire shelter during the annual training and test required for being on site at a wildfire or forest fire.
OLYMPIA — With snow still on the mountains and plenty of rain this spring in the lowlands, the danger of wildfires is light, at least for the first part of summer.
That's the word from state officials today as Gov. Chris Gregoire, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste and others took their annual Department of Natural Resources fitness and fire shelter test at Chehalis Western Trail at Woodard Bay.
The test isn't too strenuous: Cover a mile on foot in 15 minutes, which is a brisk walk, or as Gregoire complained at one point “barely a saunter.” Then open a portable fire shelter, get in it and lie on the ground in the right direction for an approaching fire within 25 seconds. (Tip: The right direction is feet toward the fire, under the theory that your head is the more valuable thing to protect.)
The training is necessary for going to the fire line should a wildfire break out. Even the governor and the WSP chief have to qualify.
Everybody passed, although it's probably not something that will be needed in most of the state this summer, except maybe in parts of the Columbia Basin.