OLYMPIA — Recent rains and cooler temperatures will allow the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow campfires west of the Cascade Mountains, effective Saturday, Sept. 5, the agency reported Friday.
Campfires will be permitted only in established fire rings in official campgrounds on western Washington lands protected by DNR. Campfires are not allowed on DNR-protected lands east of the Cascades.
The statewide burn ban instituted June 22 remains in effect on all other lands. All other outdoor burning is banned. For a fuller description of activities prohibited by the burn ban, go to www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-and-services/wildfire/outdoor-burning/burn-bans.
“As weather conditions have slightly eased fire danger in western Washington, we are adjusting the statewide burn ban to allow campfires in campgrounds over the holiday weekend,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who oversees DNR. “It’s important to remember, however, that fire danger in general remains high, and people should be extremely careful.”
Check local restrictions before starting campfires
Individual campgrounds may choose to ban campfires. Check local restrictions and with campground hosts before considering campfires.
For current information on burn restrictions, call 1-800-323-BURN or visit DNR’s webpage showing fire danger and burning restrictions by county: fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger/Default.aspx
Tips for campfire safety
In areas where campfires are allowed, follow these suggestions:
• Use an existing fire ring; don’t create a new one.
• Clear all vegetation away from the fire ring (remove all flammable materials, such as needles, leaves, sticks, etc.).
• Keep your campfire small.
• Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
• Never leave a campfire unattended.
When putting out your campfire, you should:
• First, drown the campfire with water.
• Next, mix the ashes and embers with soil. Scrape all partially-burned sticks and logs to make sure all the hot embers are off of them.
• Stir the embers after they are covered with water and make sure everything is wet.
• Feel the coals, embers, and any partially burned wood with your hands. Everything should be cool to the touch.
• When you think you are done, take an extra minute and add more water. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again.
• If water is unavailable, use moist dirt. Be careful not to bury any hot or burning material, as it can smolder and later start a wildfire.
• Finally, check the entire campsite for possible sparks or embers; it only takes one to start a forest fire.
• If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
DNR urges extreme caution around any activity that may cause a fire to start. Under these severe fire-hazard conditions, logging operations, land clearing, road and utility right of way maintenance, use of spark-emitting equipment, and other activities that create a high risk of fire ignition should be drastically curtailed.
Those who negligently allow fire to spread or who knowingly place forestlands in danger of destruction or damage are subject to possible civil liabilities and criminal penalties under state law. DNR, as well as anyone harmed by such a fire, may pursue damages that include loss of property and fire suppression costs.