House committee unanimously approves Dye’s wildfire suppression bill

Legislator: Rep. Mary Dye
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A House committee has unanimously approved a bill that would help local fire agencies get a head start with aerial support when a wildland fire breaks out. John Sattgast reports from Olympia.

SATTGAST: State Representative Mary Dye never wants to see another fire season like 2015 when fire burned across 16-hundred square miles of Washington, destroying nearly 300 homes, businesses and outbuildings.

The Pomeroy Republican says quick response and the right resources could help prevent such catastrophic damage. She's sponsored a bill that would create a pre-mobilization program to help local agencies pay for aerial support during the initial attack of a fire.

DYE: “The idea of having a few buckets of water or retardant from a helicopter in the initial attack of a small wildland fire while the pumpers and the brush trucks arrive intuitively suggests that fewer fires will grow to need a state mobilization.”

SATTGAST: In the summer of 2015, four U.S. Forest Service firefighters raced down a winding dirt road in a fire engine, trying to escape a wall of flames around them. Blinded by smoke, the engine went off the road. The sole survivor, Daniel Lyon Junior, got out and was immediately engulfed in flames, suffering third degree burns over 65 percent of his body.

Lyon submitted his testimony via video.

DYE: “Initial attack and air support is very important in wildland firefighting as it is one of the most effective ways in quickly and efficiently putting out wildland fires. House Bill 1736 will aid future wildland firefighters and could potentially save lives.”

SATTGAST: Dye's bill would allow local fire agencies to request reimbursement under the assistance program after first deployment of aircraft during a wildfire. The House Public Safety Committee gave unanimous approval Thursday and now the measure awaits being sent for a vote on the House floor.

John Sattgast, Olympia.


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