Ninety-six percent of the state is experiencing drought-like conditions, which means a high risk of wildfires. In response, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is instituting a statewide ban on outdoor burning on the 13-million acres of forests and state parks under DNR fire protection, according to a press release.
The ban began Thursday, Aug. 2. There’s been a ban in Island County since July 13.
Included in the state’s outdoor burning ban are burn piles, prescribed burns and the use of charcoal briquettes.
“When the risk of wildfire is this high – and when so many of our firefighting resources are already committed – we must take significant steps to protect our communities and firefighters,” Franz said in a press release. “I know this is an inconvenience, and I appreciate the public understanding that this is not a safe time for intentional burning within our forests.”
The burn ban does not include federally managed lands, such as national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges or other areas administered by federal agencies.
Campfires are still allowed in approved fire pits within some designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds.
To avoid accidental wildfires, the public can practice these prevention tips:
Camping and recreating:
• Only build campfires where authorized and when not under a burn ban; put them completely out before leaving camp, even for a few minutes; use plenty of water and stir until the coals are cold to the touch. Check locally before lighting a campfire as conditions may change and counties and local fire districts may have additional or new burn restrictions.
• Dispose of lit smoking materials appropriately.
• Fireworks, incendiary ammunition and exploding targets start fires and are illegal to use or discharge on public lands, including all state forests.
Vehicles and towing:
• Be sure chains and other metal parts aren’t dragging from your vehicle or trailer. They can throw sparks and start fires.
• Make sure all off-road vehicles have a properly functioning and approved spark arrester.
• Be careful driving through or parking on dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire. You may not even notice the fire until it’s too late.
• Check tire pressure and condition. Driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks.
• Have brakes serviced regularly to prevent brake pads wearing too thin; metal on metal can spark or drop pieces of hot brake pad.
Daily updates on burn restrictions are available at 1-800-323-BURN or on DNR’s website at www.dnr.wa.gov/OutdoorBurning
The outdoor burning ban is expected to last through Sept. 30, though may be extended or shortened based upon ongoing fire conditions.
Anyone who spots a wildfire should call 911.