While rain and cooler weather have dominated the early fire season, officials with the state Department of Natural Resources are reminding people that there is still fire risk.
As vegetation dries out, fires can quickly ignite, so the department reminds people to be aware of fire restrictions where they plan to enjoy the July 4th holiday.
“The major wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico remind us how destructive they can be to our homes and lives,” Peter Goldmark, commissioner of public lands, said in a prepared statement. “We urge everyone to exercise caution with any fire-related activities this holiday weekend.”
Since January, agency firefighters have already suppressed more than 140 fires that have burned nearly 872 acres on department-protected lands.
Department records show fire danger is highest Saturday and Sunday afternoons when the woods fill up with recreationists. Unattended campfires, fireworks, faulty vehicle or motorcycle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are common causes of wildfires in Washington.
Beginning today, there is a statewide burn ban in effect on all department-protected lands through Sept. 30. This means all forestlands in Washington under DNR fire protection. The ban does not apply to federal lands. Campfires are permitted on DNR-managed lands in approved fire pits only.
The department is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.7 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands.
The agency is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with more than 1,000 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed, said a news release. During fire season, this includes more than 700 agency employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees.
Fire safety tips
Here are some tips to help keep this a safe and enjoyable weekend:
• It is illegal to discharge fireworks on DNR-protected and public lands.
• Never leave a campfire unattended, and be sure it is completely out before leaving the area.
• Be sure recreational vehicles have operating spark arresters;
• Do not park any vehicles in dry, grassy areas as the heat from exhaust systems can ignite dry grass.
Stay connected during wildfire season
DNR’s Fire Twitter: twitter.com/waDNR_fire
DNR Fire update: dnr.wa.gov/Publications/rp_fire_currentfireinfodailyupdates.pdf
Incident Information System: inciweb.org/state/49