Government shutdown limits the Forest Service's preparation for fire season


    Government shutdown limits Forest Service's preparation for fire season.

    YAKIMA, Wash.- The government is shutdown, but wildfire season is still approaching whether we like it or not.

    Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray wrote a letter to President Trump saying the U.S Forest Service won't have all the tools needed to battle wild blazes, if federal offices remain closed.

    “We're not going to stop until this country is back open. Open the government,” Cantwell said.

    So KIMA reached out the forest service to see if that was true, but all we got back was an automated email.

    They said their fire communications specialist was currently furloughed and won't be back into the office until funding keeps coming back.

    The forest service eventually responded and said they're doing what they can with limited funding and are prioritizing staffing and training that started this week.

    But all prescribed burns that are used to try and lower fire damages in the forest will be put on hold until federal funding comes back into play.

    Crews in the valley go through similar basic training before fire season and say it crucial to get everybody prepared.

    “Knowing our brush trucks or our units that are going to be out protecting structures with. So, we go through the equipment, the pumps, pump training and everything that goes along with it,” Deputy Chief Jim Lange with Selah Fire said.

    He said they usually use that training to look back at the bigger blazes they faced the year before.

    Lange said it's important to always look at what was done to see where they can get better.

    “We can learn from them and we can see what kind of tactics they used to put out the fires. We can see how they protect the structures or if there's things we can improve on,” he said.

    Now KIMA wanted to get more details about what else the forest service could be working on before fire season gets here, but they say no one is available to answer questions because almost everyone is furloughed at the moment.

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