Hot and dry conditions increasing fire danger statewide
With heat and drought rapidly increasing fire danger in western Washington, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is today expanding last week's burn ban from DNR-protected lands in eastern Washington to include those west of the Cascades. The statewide burn ban will run from June 22 through September 30, 2015.
"Westside forests are drying out and the outlook is for continued warm, dry weather," said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. "These conditions make it clear it's time for a statewide burn ban."
The statewide burn ban applies to state forests, state parks and forestlands under DNR fire protection. It does not include federally owned lands such as national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges or other areas administered by federal agencies.
In 2015 so far, there have been 306 wildfire starts throughout the state. Last year's fire season was the biggest on record in Washington, with the largest state fire ever, the Carlton Complex, destroying more than 250,000 acres. More than 1 million acres of Washington's landscape has been consumed by wildfire since 2009.
DNR is awaiting legislative action this summer on requests for $4.5 million for additional firefighting teams and equipment, and $20 million to improve the health of drought-ravaged, flammable forests.
The statewide burn ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR-protected forestlands with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal and other campgrounds. Charcoal briquettes may be used only in approved campground fire pits.
Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition, are illegal on all DNR-protected forestlands.
If conditions permit, limited controlled burning will be allowed for live-fire training exercises under the direction of DNR during firefighter training. These burns would take place on June 25 through 27 approximately 17 miles northeast of Ellensburg, in the Naneum Ridge State Forest near Snag Canyon; and June 28 and 29 about three miles north of Oakville in the Capital State Forest.
DNR's wildfire mission
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR 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. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, adult offenders from the Department of Corrections and juvenile offenders from the Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration support firefighting efforts through DNR's Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington's coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.