With rain and cooler temperatures easing fire danger across Washington, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is lifting restrictions on recreational campfires.
Effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, campfires will be allowed in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds Washington lands protected by DNR.
Because forests and rangelands remain dry from the summer’s low precipitation totals, other forms of outdoor burning, such as debris burning, remain prohibited under the burn ban ordered by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
“We’re thankful to have rain help wet our landscapes, but as we saw with a quick-moving fire east of Ellensburg Sunday evening, we’re not out of fire season quite yet,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “I urge everyone to check with their local authorities before lighting campfires.”
Check local restrictions
Counties and local fire districts may have their own continued campfire bans. Burn restrictions on federally-owned lands, such as national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges or other areas are administered by federal agencies. Check local restrictions, campground signs or with campground hosts before starting a campfire.
For current information on burn restrictions, call 1-800-323-BURN or visit DNR’s webpage showing fire danger and burning restrictions by county: www.dnr.wa.gov/burn-restrictions.
Those choosing to have a campfire in allowed areas should:
- Use an approved or provided fire pit only; don’t create a new one.
- Keep the campfire small.
- Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby.
- Never leave the campfire unattended.
- To extinguish a campfire: drown with water, mix ashes, scrape partially-burned sticks and logs, and alternate drowning and mixing until cold. A campfire too hot to touch, is too hot to leave.
More than 90 percent of Washington’s wildfires this year have been human-caused. As of Sept. 19, 2017, DNR has responded to 745 wildfires this year. Here is a year-to-date comparison of the last 5 years:
- 2012 – 671 fires for 67,455 acres
- 2013 – 722 fires for 126,027 acres
- 2014 – 808 fires for 314,565 acres
- 2015 – 953 fires for 753,104 acres
- 2016 – 766 fires for 16,403 acres
Escaped and abandoned campfires are one of the state’s leading causes of wildfires, with an average of 105 fires started by campfires over the past five years. Washington also sees an average of 140 fires started by debris burning every year.
DNR’s wildfire mission
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, 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 and participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.