Vashon Wildfires

Fire-resistant old growth forests have been replaced over the past century by second-growth forests with more undergrowth. Building closer to forests also increases risk to those structures, and to human-caused wildfires. According to long term climate trends, droughts are becoming more severe in western Washington. However, while Puget Sound is typically driest during late summer, Vashon-Maury island benefits all year from a marine layer that remoisturizes foliage overnight.

Wildfire Resources

Firewise (a project of the National Fire Protection Association) - has a number of tips/resources for rural homeowners. 

Vashon Island Fire & Rescue also is a resource for fire information. They have more prevention material & advise available through their business office and in person than on their website.

Consult King County's website for good regional fire prevention steps for homeowners.

Check out Public Health Seattle - King County's 2023 blog post about staying safe during wildfire season.

Vashon's Historical Fires

The Puget Sound typically has a drought during the hottest time of the year. Fire-resistant old growth forests have succumbed to semi rural environments with more undergrowth in the last century. These and a host of other reasons have contributed to the real potential for a wildfire on Vashon. Past major fires are chronicled in Bruce Haulman's Historical Vashon Disasters article:

1889 – Seattle fire – encourages brick works on Vashon

1893 – Major forest fire burns from Center to Ellisport

August 1893 a fire began in the logged off area near the present high school where the first saw mill was located.  The fire rages for two days and nights, "nearly a hundred" volunteers "fought desperately against apparently hopeless odds, with shovels and hoes and rakes, to save the new Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church at Center, and the Fuller store across the street. With the flames within two hundred yards of Center, the wind shifted to the north on the evening of the second day, allowing fire fighters finally gain control of the fire.

1920 – Burton Fire – three buildings burned.
              Fire destroys remains of Raeco Raecolite (linoleum) plant on Maury

1925 – Lisabeula School destroyed by fire

1926 – Auto drives off Lisabeula pier – 2 drown 5 saved
              Volunteer Fire Department formed at Vashon

1927 – Water District 19 installs mains and fire hydrants in Vashon Town

1933 – April 16 -Vashon fire, half of downtown Vashon burns – England Peterson Lumber Co. and Middling Hotel lost
              no electricity after fire
              Major forest fire – Paradise Valley to Lisabuela

1939 – Forest fires burn on island – 2 days at Heights, 2 days at Rosehilla, 1 month at Pt. Robinson
              November 12 – Earthquake shakes for 21 minutes 5.75 Richter

1940 – April 6 – Meeting to form Fire District

1945 – 100 acre fire in Paradise Valley
              September – Tahlequah, Burton and Dockton Fire Halls dedicated by Vashon Fireman’s Association
              April 29 – Earthquake 5.5 Richter

1950 – Falcon’s Nest Burns – island showcase lodge destroyed by fire

1956 – Kirchner Fiberglass Plant burned in fire

1957 – Fire Permits required – except for beach fires, cooking fire, recreational fires, and incinerators

1958 – 500 acre wildfire on Maury – 3 day battle to contain blaze

1963 – April – “Plectron” alert system and 34 receivers purchased by fire district

1977 – October - Vashon Fire – part of downtown burns – not enough water pressure – 6 businesses destroyed or damaged