Hot, dry conditions coupled with a thunderstorm forecast for Tuesday has put the Spokane area on high alert for fire.
The National Weather Service forecast projects Tuesday to be the hottest day of the year with a high of 96. Starting at 2 p.m., a fire weather watch will be in effect until 5 a.m. Wednesday due to a chance for “abundant lightning” and gusts of wind up to 40 mph.
“Especially late in the afternoon into Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, we’ll have a cold front pushing in,” meteorologist Jeff Cote said. “As that cold front pushes in, it’ll bring with it scattered showers and thunderstorms.”
Fires in grasses have the potential to spread more quickly with the winds. Cote said there is a potential for the fire weather watch to be upgraded to a red flag warning as forecasters become more sure about the forecast.
Outdoor burning restrictions in cities and unincorporated areas of Spokane County start Wednesday as fire danger increases. Open burning and outdoor fires without a chimney are not allowed until further notice and could be punished with criminal charges.
“People are the main cause of wildfires. If we can reduce these risks during our typically hot and dry summer months, we can potentially avoid millions of dollars in lost resources, livestock, property and even human lives,” Spokane City Fire Marshal Megan Phillips said.
Fires in outdoor fireplaces, barbecues or patio warmers are OK. Fire extinguishing equipment must be on hand, and winds have to be below 7 mph.
The cold front will bring a high near 81 degrees and winds between 10 and 13 mph on Wednesday.
The rest of the week is projected to be dry with high temperatures in the mid-80s to low 90s.
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