Burn bans eased

A return to wet, cooler weather means campers and s’mores enthusiasts can spark up fires once again.

A return to wet, cooler weather means campers and s’mores enthusiasts can spark up fires once again.

Both Deception Pass State Park officials and Island County Sheriff Rick Felici, who doubles as the county’s fire marshal, announced this week that burn bans were downgraded from Type II to Type I.

The change means recreational fires, including campfires, are now allowed in approved fire pits in unincorporated areas and the state park. Of course, barbecue grills using propane or briquettes or self-contained camp stoves are still A-OK.

No outdoor burning of natural debris is allowed, even with a permit.

There is a permanent ban on burning yard waste and debris from land clearing in Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland, Langley and urban growth areas surrounding municipalities.

Felici called for a Type II burn ban in mid-July as the weather was unusually dry and hot. The county was included in the state Department of Ecology’s drought emergency declaration that covered most of the state.

According to Washington State University, precipitation on Whidbey Island this summer was below average. In Coupeville, for example, no rain was measured in July and 0.14 inches in August of this year. For the 12 years before that, the average was 0.35 inches in July and 0.53 in August.

The Department of Ecology noted that average August temperatures returned to normal for most of the state, but drought conditions stayed constant or worsened.

“The anticipated La Nina winter is not expected to be enough to restore normal soil moisture in the most impacted areas,” the agency reported.

The National Weather Service predicts wet weather next week for the county.

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