With recent rain and current weather models predicting more moderate conditions in western Washington, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is adjusting the current statewide burn ban. Recreational campfires will be permitted in established fire rings in official campgrounds on DNR-protected lands west of the Cascade crest, the agency announced today.
“We’ve seen a shift from extremely hot and dry to more moderate weather in western Washington, which means a reduced risk of wildfire,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “This shift allows us to adjust the burn ban to allow recreational campfires in these specific circumstances on DNR-protected lands on the west side of the state.”
Over the summer, high fire hazard conditions throughout the state have caused fires to spread rapidly and challenged firefighting efforts. More than $91 million has been spent so far battling wildfires in 2014, and more than 350,000 acres have burned across the state. There are many weeks to go in this year’s fire season, which usually runs into October.
All other outdoor burning on DNR-protected lands continues to be prohibited under this ban. Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition, remain illegal on all DNR-protected lands. Charcoal briquettes are also not allowed.
If campers and visitors are unsure about whether a campground is on DNR-protected land, they should check with local park authorities on campfire restrictions that may be in place.
In addition, DNR urges extreme caution around any activity that may cause a fire to start. Under these severe fire-hazard conditions, logging operations, land clearing, road and utility right of way maintenance, use of spark-emitting equipment, and other activities that create a high risk of fire ignition should be drastically curtailed.
Those who negligently allow fire to spread or who knowingly place forestlands in danger of destruction or damage are subject to possible civil liabilities and criminal penalties under state law. DNR, as well as anyone harmed by such a fire, may pursue damages that include loss of property and fire suppression costs.
The statewide burn ban will run through September 30, 2014. It applies to all lands under DNR fire protection, which does not include federally owned lands.
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.