State lands commissioner asks for help from public amid high wildfire risk

August 16, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10:30 p.m. Aug. 16, 2012

State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark asked for help from the public Thursday to prevent wildfires, as the risk rises on both sides of the Cascades.

“The next three days are going to be very dangerous in terms of the potential for wildfire,” he said in a statement. “That is true in Western Washington as well as Eastern Washington. It is everyone’s responsibility to be safe and not take any risks.”

The request came as the National Weather Service maintains a regional excessive heat warning for communities along Puget Sound and in the Cascade foothills. Temperatures could approach 100 degrees in Issaquah on Thursday.

The weekend forecast includes a significant risk of lightning-sparked wildfires.

Lightning often starts wildlife, but people cause many blazes, too. Destructive fires can be traced to carelessly tended campfires, indefensible home sites, and sparks caused by equipment or vehicles.

Crews continue to battle the Taylor Bridge Fire in Kittitas County. (Organizers set up a donation site in Issaquah to aid people impacted by the blaze.)

“As the Taylor Bridge Fire demonstrates, the risk and consequences of catastrophic wildfire is extreme,” Goldmark said. “We have hundreds of firefighters fighting two major wildfires in Washington and resources are stretched thin by fires across the West. Now is the time to be ever-vigilant.”

In addition, Goldmark’s Department of Natural Resources put a burn ban in place on Tiger Mountain State Forest and other state wildlands July 1. The moratorium is in effect until Sept. 30, and includes all forestlands in Washington, except for federal lands.

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