With fires raging across the great state of Washington, many wonder about the techniques and methods used, especially in dangerous areas like the Pioneer Fire. Burning for a month now on the north shore of Lake Chelan, the Pioneer Fire has held steady at 4,500 acres and has incurred costs of approximately $2.5 million as of Tuesday, June 25th. So, how do they do it? Aerial attacks, including water drops from upwards of seven helicopters, have been attempted on the Pioneer Fire without success. In fact, authorities suggest that only a seasonal storm, typically seen in October, will extinguish it.


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Methods of Attack:

Firefighters employ various methods based on fire conditions:

  • Direct Attack: Engaging the fire directly at its edge, using water or dirt to suppress flames, and constructing firelines close to the fire’s perimeter. This method is effective for fires in light fuels and under favorable wind conditions.
  • Parallel Attack: Constructing firelines parallel to the fire edge but at a safer distance, often cutting across unburned areas to expedite construction. Fuel between the fireline and the fire edge is intentionally burned out during this process.
  • Indirect Attack: Building firelines at a distance from the fire edge and backfiring the unburned fuel between them. This approach utilizes natural barriers and is critical for high-intensity fires with rapid spread rates.


Safety and Efficiency:

Throughout these operations, firefighter safety is prioritized, with planned escape routes and constant communication among team members. The objective is to swiftly contain the fire, prevent its spread into hazardous fuels, and minimize risks to lives and properties.



Community Awareness:

As firefighting efforts intensify, residents are urged to stay informed and follow safety guidelines issued by local authorities. Effective coordination and public cooperation are essential in mitigating the impact of these wildfires.

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Gallery Credit: AJ Brewster

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