OLYMPIA – Bone dry conditions combined with high winds will boost the potential for wildfire to very high levels starting early Sunday in Washington counties east of the Cascade Mountains.
“This weekend we will see dry fuels and high winds that give us two of the three elements that can start a catastrophic wildfire. The third element is the tiniest spark. We are asking everyone to take extra care this weekend to avoid any risk of providing that spark,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said. “We have already lost 61 homes to wildfire this year, with more threatened in the Columbia Gorge; we cannot afford the risk of more human-caused wildfires.”
Winds up to 40 miles per hour are predicted, starting Sunday through Monday, from the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the state’s eastern border. The combination of high winds and extremely dry grasses and other fuels will greatly increase the potential for wildfire this weekend.
Wildfires are often started by lightning, but many fires are caused by people. The most destructive fire threats to Washington State’s wildlands and private property in rural areas stem from three sources: carelessly tended campfires, recreational activities and sparks caused by equipment or vehicles.
Statewide burn ban
In an effort to reduce human-caused wildfires, Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands, effective July 1, 2012, through September 30, 2012. The ban includes all forestlands in Washington except for federal lands, which have their own published restrictions. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host before starting a campfire.
Fire safety information
· Campfires are only authorized in approved camp grounds with approved fire rings. Never leave a campfire unattended, and be sure it is completely dead out and cold to the touch before leaving the camp site.
· Be sure recreational vehicles have operating spark arresters.
· Be aware that common recreational activities can cause fires, such as target shooting, cigarette butts, and trailer chains dragging on concrete.
· Do not park any vehicles in dry, grassy areas, as the heat from exhaust systems can ignite the dry grass.
· It is illegal to discharge fireworks on DNR-protected and public lands.
For tips on protecting your home and family before a wildfire, visit www.firewise.org
Check for fire danger levels by county http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger/BurnRisk.aspx
Stay connected during wildfire season
· DNR’s Fire Twitter: http://twitter.com/waDNR_fire
· DNR Fire Update: www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/rp_fire_currentfireinfodailyupdates.pdf
· Incident Information System (InciWeb): www.inciweb.org/state/49
Media Contact: Bryan Flint, Communications and Outreach Director, 360-902-1023, email@example.com