Wildfire Season Edges Closer
Wildfire season officially begins one week from today and already the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has had 20 forest fires reported this year. Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through October 15 and rules apply to the 13 million acres of private and state forest lands protected from wildfire by DNR. Last year, a total of 764 fires burned approximately 126,219 acres. Of those fires, 94 percent of the wildfires that burned on DNR-protected lands were contained to less than 10 acres in size. Overall, 70 percent of the wildfires on DNR-protected lands in 2013 were human-caused.
The regulations affect loggers, firewood cutters, land clearers, road builders, bulldozer operators, off-road motorcyclists, and others. During fire season, people using motorized equipment in the woods must have approved spark arresters and follow fire safety precautions. In addition, those working in the woods must have fire prevention and extinguishing equipment in good working order at the job site and workers trained in proper use.
The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread. Those same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas to roads, gravels pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.
Dry and unhealthy forests continue to be a fire hazard and will for many years. It takes only one spark to start a fire that can have catastrophic results. Prevention of human-caused wildfires can reduce the risk of expensive, disruptive wildfires that damage habitat for birds, fish, and wildlife. These fires destroy homes and threaten the safety of the public and firefighters who protect forests and communities at risk.
DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov. Click on Fire Information to review regional precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones, and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin.
DNR’s toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays a message identifying daily industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region.