Campfires and other outdoor burning are banned on state and federal lands in Whatcom County and the region because of continued hot, dry weather and extreme fire danger.
The ban started Friday.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources says the ban applies to all outdoor burning including recreation fires on state forests, state parks and forestlands under DNR fire protection within Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan counties.
Officials at North Cascades National Park also have banned campfires and the ignition of wood, briquettes or any fuel in fire pits, fire pans and barbeque grills in the national park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.
It includes all National Park Service lands and campgrounds along state Route 20 as well as Hozomeen and the entire Stehekin Valley.
Fires powered by gas or propane stoves are allowed.
Similar burn bans are already in place in the adjacent Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and British Columbia.
The burn bans come at a time when fire-related deaths this year are outpacing the average from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 for the last five years, said Lysandra Davis, deputy state fire marshal.
There have been 54 fire deaths so far this year, as compared to 55 total in 2016. Two of this year’s deaths have been in Whatcom County.
The largest estimated jump in fire deaths this year is for adults age 65 or older, Davis said.
Davis said the most common causes of a fire-related death are electrical hazards or careless smoking-related habits, such as smoking in bed.
“It’s human behaviors linked to those hazards,” Davis said.
She also cautioned people to make sure to have working fire detectors or smoke alarms present in their homes. In one of the deaths in Whatcom County this year, there was no smoke alarm in the house.
“If it’s a nuisance alarm, it can be life-saving,” Davis said. “In this case it was very much having that thing missing that was the key that could have been a life-saver. Don’t be scared … knowing what to do in a fire can save your life and having working smoke alarms can be key.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt
Fire Safety Tips:
▪ Have properly installed smoke alarms on every level of your home, including basement, as well as in every bedroom and outside of each sleeping area
▪ In the event of a fire, get out and stay out. Never go back into a burning home.
▪ Know at least two ways to get out of every room in the house.
▪ Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old with new ones.
▪ Never smoke while lying down, drowsy or in bed.
▪ When cooking, stand by the pan and watch what you heat.
▪ Make sure extension cords and wall sockets are not overloaded, cracked or broken.