People recreating on state lands are reminded to take care and avoid sparking a wildfire.
“Hot weather and dry vegetation are a dangerous mix,” Clay Sprague, state Department of Fish and Wildlife lands manager, said in a news release. “We’ve already had several wildfires on department lands, and the fire season is just getting started.”
The largest fire, which started in early June, burned nearly 2,500 acres at the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area in southeast Washington. As of July 1, there had been more than 150 wildfires on the public and private lands state Department of Natural Resources protects from wildfire.
The Department of Natural Resources has issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all forested areas under DNR fire protection. Recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds are allowed. The ban is in place through Sept. 30.
Campfires are also prohibited on other Fish and Wildlife lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. For example, no campfires of any kind are allowed at the four department wildlife areas in Yakima and Kittitas counties — Oak Creek, Wenas, L.T. Murray and Colockum — until Oct. 15 due to the high risk of wildfires.
Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area.
“A lot of campers we talk to don’t realize just how volatile the situation is in these tinder-dry conditions,” Mike Cenci, Fish and Wildlife’s deputy chief of enforcement, said in the news release. “One spark can ignite a fire that can quickly race out of control.”
According to Natural Resources wildfire experts, people cause 85 percent of Washington’s wildfires. Common causes include unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers on dry grass, target shooting and careless disposal of cigarettes.
“Following fire restrictions and exercising common sense are the most important steps people can take to preserve public recreation lands and wildlife habitat,” Sprague said in the release.
The state Department of Natural Resources offers six safety tips for anyone recreating outdoors:
• Never start a campfire when wind is strong or local fire danger is high.
• Use a screen over and around a campfire to minimize sparks.
• Keep fires under 3 feet high and wide.
• Keep 5 gallons of water and a shovel nearby.
• Never leave fires unattended.
• Extinguish a fire by drowning it thoroughly with water, stirring until cold, and then drowning it again.
Stay up to date
ONLINE INFO: DNR’s summer burn ban is posted at goo.gl/5jykD. Local fire-danger levels and burn-ban information is available at fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger/BurnRisk.aspx.
REPORT A FIRE: To report a wildfire or untended campfire, call 911 or 800-562-6010.