Hot, dry conditions prompt commissioner Franz to enact statewide burn ban

  • Wed Aug 5th, 2020 1:30am
  • News

Submitted by the Washington Department of Natural Resources

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz signed an order yesterday creating a statewide burn ban on all forestland under the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ fire protection. This covers 12 million acres of public and private land. The order took effect today and is valid through Sept. 30, unless fire conditions improve.

The burn ban was prompted by prolonged hot, dry weather conditions across the state along with gusty winds that can spread a wildfire quickly through the now-dry grasses and forests.

“We simply cannot take any chances right now with wildfire potential so great,” said Commissioner Franz. “Recent hot weather has set the stage for fires to start easily and grow quickly – any spark can set off a megafire. I ask that we all do our part to prevent wildfires and keep our communities safe by abiding by this burn ban and being extremely cautious when it comes to activities that could start a fire.”

She added that the public should wait for wetter conditions to burn yard debris or for dispersed campfires, and pay special attention to the equipment they are using on their land that could create sparks. The fire risk, she said, is growing each day due to the heat coupled with upcoming winds across Washington.

The announcement comes after a spike in wildfires over the weekend. Currently, there are four large fires burning in Washington:

The largest is the Colockum Fire near Wenatchee, which has burned 3,337 acres. Approximately, 2,305 of those acres are DNR jurisdiction. The other 1,032 acres are on Chelan County Fire District 1 jurisdiction.

The second largest is the Anglin Fire, located just east of Tonasket, is estimated at 1,200 acres and growing.

The Greenhouse Fire near Nespelem has burned 5,146 acres and is at 64 percent containment.

The Green Fire, near Synarep, is at roughly 700 acres and is, at this point, uncontained.

George Geissler, deputy for DNR’s wildfire division and state forester, echoed the commissioners warning, adding that firefighting resources are stretched thin after the weekend of hot temperatures and wildfire starts in eastern Washington.

“We are entering a critical period for our firefighters with temperatures rising and rapidly drying fuels on the ground,” said Geissler. “We’ll continue to respond with our air and ground assets as needed, but we hope the public will take the burn ban seriously. Not only are we putting firefighters in danger with each wildfire, but we are also risking their exposure to COVID-19 with smoky conditions and a close working environment. We want and need healthy first responders for the duration of the wildfire season.”

He added that the public can do their part by playing it safe and abiding by the burn ban and calling 911 if they see smoke.

Wildfire statistics can be found on DNR’s wildfire portal at http://fireinfo.dnr.wa.gov/ (use Chrome browser). DNR’s State Meteorologist Josh Clark explains the upcoming weather and fire danger in this video posted on Twitter.

The signed statewide burn ban can be seen here.