Burn ban extended and expanded

"Whidbey Island has been as dry as a planning commission meeting, and as hot as an 'N Sync concert.To prevent everything from going up in smoke, Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley - acting as the fire marshal - has extended and toughened the current burn ban in the county.The new burn ban, which went into effect last week, extends to fires previously permitted by the state Department of Natural Resources. In other words, even people with DNR permits for outdoor fires can no longer burn stuff. Fires within approved fire pits (lined with metal or concrete) in established campgrounds or cooking fires in barbecues are still allowed. But all other outdoor fires are illegal.The ban is in effect for 30 days unless extended by the county. The previous ban went into effect at noon July 20.According to the Sheriff's Department, continued warm weather, low humidity and declining moisture levels - along with the reduced availability of firefighting resources - have created a substantial fire risk. "

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