OLYMPIA — The Washington state commissioner of public lands has ordered a statewide burn ban starting Tuesday because of hot, dry and windy weather conditions.
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said the order issued Tuesday will remain in effect through Sept. 30 unless fire conditions improve.
The ban covers all 12 million acres of public and private forestland under the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ fire protection. The announcement comes after a spike in wildfires over the weekend. Currently, four large fires are burning in Washington, the largest of which is near Wenatchee, Franz said.
“We simply cannot take any chances right now with wildfire potential so great. Recent hot weather has set the stage for fires to start easily and grow quickly – any spark can set off a megafire,” Franz said in a news release. “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.”
The fire risk, she said, is growing each day due to the heat coupled with winds in the forecast across Washington.
The burn ban announcement comes after a spike in wildfires in eastern Washington, including the 3,300-acre Colockum Fire in Chelan County and three fires in Okanogan County: the 1,200-acre Anglin Fire near Tonasket, the 5,100-acre Greenhouse Fire near Nespelem and the Green Fire fire near Synarep, estimated at about 800 acres.
George Geissler, deputy for DNR’s wildfire division and state forester, said firefighting resources are stretched thin.
“We are entering a critical period for our firefighters with temperatures rising and rapidly drying fuels on the ground,” stated 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.”