Red flag warning issued for the Inland Northwest

LEWISTON, ID - The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the inland Northwest on Monday, which includes the LC Valley and Palouse, putting local firefighting agencies at a critical preparedness level.

"Anytime there is a red flag warning in our area, it brings up the level of intensity of what we're doing, said Asotin County Fire Chief Noel Hardin.

Hardin has his crews on high alert and ready to take on anything over the next few days should all the wrong elements come together when lightening strikes.

"We're tracking storms that have been coming through our area right now," said Hardin. "With technology we can actually see where the lightening strikes, and that sort of thing, and so we'll put patrols out in those areas."

At the top of Lewiston hill, it was extremely windy Monday. There are low levels of humidity in the Valley and lots of dry areas, so the possibility of lightning strikes put the area at a red flag warning.

"The storms that have been coming through the area the last couple of days, there has not been a lot of moisture so our level of intensity is a lot higher," said Hardin. "Because of that we're going to be watching a lot closer if there is no moisture with it."

Due to the conditions, the potential for a fire to escalate quickly has local Valley agencies all working together to help each other out.

"We have a wild land red flag task force, that we set up with our mutual aid partners, that if a fire does start we will automatically send assistance right away," said Lewiston Fire Chief Garry DeJong.

DeJong said residents in the Valley can assist the fire departments by staying alert.

"The best thing they can do is continue to be safe with the practices that they do," said DeJong. "If they have a garden hose or a fire-extinguisher, just something nearby so they can help control that should something start."

Hardin also said they need everyone's eyes watching out for any sparks.

"Sometimes people are hesitant to call 911, but we'd be real happy if they let us know if they see something," said Hardin.

Hardin advises that maintaining your property and making sure there is no dry grass or weeds up against your building can do a lot to protect your home.