Citing increased fire danger, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will impose tighter industrial work restrictions starting Monday.
Forest officials will bump the Industrial Fire Precaution Level from I to II. The highest rating is Level IV.
Level II restrictions prohibit the use of power saws, cable yarding, blasting and metal welding or cutting from 1 to 8 p.m. each day. A one-hour fire watch is also required after shutting down power saws, including chainsaws. Equipment must have approved spark arresters while operating within the forest.
The tighter rules had already been in effect in a southern portion of the forest. The change expands those restrictions to the entire forest, including the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
The extra precautions come after a run of warm, dry weather in the Northwest that brought triple-digit temperatures to many places last weekend.
It’s not unusual for the forest to move to Level II fire precaution this time of year, said Gifford Pinchot spokeswoman Sue Ripp. Last year, the forest made the same change on Aug. 25.
Regardless of conditions, visitors are encouraged to take proper precautions with fire in the forest. That means completely extinguishing a campfire before leaving it, and keeping water and dirt-scraping tools nearby to put out stray embers.
The forest covers 1.3 million acres in Southwest Washington, stretching from the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to the edge of Mount Rainier National Park.