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Farmers Wary Of Wildfire Observers Near Walla Walla

Anna King
Northwest News Network
Greg Ferrel harvests his barley fields near Walla Walla, Washington, as a smoke from a wildfire rises on the horizon.

A wildfire about 10 miles east of Walla Walla, Washington, grew to the southeast Tuesday afternoon. The close proximity to town means some people are driving by to get an up-close look at the fire.

But observing a wildfire up close can actually make conditions even more dangerous.

Farmer Greg Ferrel is concerned about people who are coming up into the area around his barley fields, passing his large equipment on the roads and making it very unsafe.

"You start seeing people pulling all the way over into the dry weeds with the gasoline exhaust and it makes you really nervous,” Ferrel said. “Because they don't understand they can start a fire."

He's on one of the major routes that has a good outlook and so they've seen a lot of traffic from town from people trying to take a closer look.

Ferrel said the wind direction right now is favorable -- it's blowing away from his farm. But he said if the wind changed directions it would be directly headed for his farm and for nearby wheat fields.

The Blue Creek and Klicker Mountain fire is estimated at 4,200 acres as of Tuesday afternoon. About 400 fire-fighting personnel are at the scene.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.