WASHINGTON — A statewide burn ban was issued for all forestland under Washington State Department of Natural Resources' protection.
The ban covers approximately 12 million acres of public and private land.
The burn ban is in effect through Sept. 30, or until the risk of wildfire lessens.
Prolonged hot, dry weather combined with gust winds prompted the statewide ban.
“We simply cannot take any chances right now with wildfire potential so great,” said Commissioner Hilary 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.”
Campfires are still allowed under the order, as long as they are contained to fire pits in state forest campgrounds.
The order does not impact any rules at state parks.
Franz asks people to wait for wetter conditions before burning yard debris.
The announcement follows what the Department of Natural Resources is calling a "spike" in wildfires over the weekend. There are currently four large fires burning in the state:
- 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% containment.
- The Green Fire, near Synarep, is at roughly 700 acres and is, at this point, uncontained.
Franz said the state cannot rely on firefighting assistance from federal agencies or other states because many of those crews have been reassigned to handle the pandemic.
She said response times might be slower for state firefighting crews this year.
When a firefighter tested positive for COVID-19, the firefighter and his seven teammates all had to be quarantined for two weeks before returning to action.