A small pasture fire broke out in Rochester early Tuesday afternoon, and rapidly spread, damaging almost one acre of a property near 16000 Ty Lane SW.
Multiple crews responded after the fire — which was initially started to burn residential waste in a barrel — reached dry grass and became out of control.
“It’s that time of year where heat causes damage very quickly,” West Thurston Fire captain Lanette Dyer said.
Dyer said this, like many brush fires crews in Thurston County have responded to this summer, was preventable. She said a misunderstanding about residential burning restrictions led a teenager, who was taking the trash out, to light the fire.
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Some fencing on the property was damaged, but it did not reach any structures. Two horses and a donkey were narrowly evacuated from the area.
“There’s no malice intent,” Dyer said. “But it’s a really good reminder that burn barrels are illegal, and it’s illegal to burn in Thurston County.”
In nearly every circumstance. Thurston County’s annual summer burn ban went into effect on July 15, and prohibits most residential burning, including yard waste and debris.
Outdoor burning is permanently banned in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and surrounding urban growth areas in the county.
West Thurston Fire captain Eric Smith said crews throughout Thurston County have seen an increased workload with brush fires as temperatures continue to rise and humidity drops.
“We’ve hit that natural period where the fields have completely lost their moisture,” he said.
West Thurston has responded to multiple calls in the past week. Smith said when humidity drops to about 30 percent, fires tend to be reported more often.
“That’s the magic point for our area,” he said.
The pasture fire in Rochester was one of several brush fires reported Tuesday. Crews also responded — at two different times during the day — to small fires near the Walgreens on Trosper Road in Tumwater. Those fires were contained.