Washington

Campfires prohibited on state lands as weather turns hot, dry

The Washington state Department of Natural Resources has restricted campfires statewide until Sept. 30, 2016.
The Washington state Department of Natural Resources has restricted campfires statewide until Sept. 30, 2016. McClatchy

A statewide burn ban was expanded Wednesday to restrict campfires on all state-owned land in light of increasingly hot, dry conditions.

“After a relatively mild summer, we are entering a period of critical fire weather on both sides of the Cascades,” said Peter Goldmark, commissioner of public lands for the state Department of Natural Resources.

“The greatest fire danger right now comes from carelessness. It’s essential that people understand the risks involved and do not spark any fires.”

The ban, which expires Sept. 30, applies to state forests, state parks and forestlands protected by DNR firefighters. Any outdoor burning, including campfires in fire pits and the use of charcoal briquettes, is prohibited.

So far in Washington this fire season, there have been 527 blazes on 3,372 acres, according to DNR. By the same time last year, there were 803 fires burning on 319,551 acres.

The state’s worst-ever wildfire season was in 2015 due to a record drought, low snowpack and lots of hot and dry weather. More than 1 million acres burned.

“Now is not the time to have any kind of outdoor burning, tossing of burning materials out of vehicles or use of fireworks or other fire starters,” said Ted Buehner, meteorologist with the Weather Service.

Forecasters said temperatures will soar Thursday to Saturday to the high 80s and low 90s, possibly breaking records.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for Thursday and Friday.

“The breezes will combine with low relative humidity and hot temperatures to produce red flag conditions across much of Western Washington,” the alert reads.

An excessive heat watch is in place until Saturday.

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