Wildfire season began April 15

April 16, 2013

By Staff

Regardless of the wet, rainy spring, wildfire season has officially begun, as specified by state law.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources wants to remind people that the risk of wildfires can change rapidly during spring, when warmer, dryer weather occurs with increasing frequency. Wildfires can damage natural resources, destroy homes, and threaten the safety of the public and the firefighters who protect forests and communities.

As of April 8, 17 forest fires had already been reported this year on lands protected by the department. Last year, 794 fires burned approximately 68,347 acres. In 2012, 94 percent of the wildfires that burned on DNR-protected lands were contained to less than 10 acres in size. Overall, 79 percent of the wildfires on DNR-protected lands in 2012 were caused by humans.

The department wants to remind people to take appropriate action to prevent wildfires, and protect property before vegetation dries out and fire risk increases.

This year, the department is encouraging homeowners, land managers, first responders, developers, business owners and civic leaders to focus on Knowing Your Role when it comes to preparing communities for wildfire. Learn more at http://fireadapted.org.

Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect through Oct. 15. The rules apply to the 12.9 million acres of private and state forestlands protected from wildfire by the DNR.

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 staff trained in its proper use.

The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread. The same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas to roads, gravels pits or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.

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