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Tuesday,  July 23 , 2024

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News / Northwest

‘Do not start a fire outside’: Washington issues statewide burn ban amid record heat wave

By Daniel Schrager, The Bellingham Herald
Published: July 10, 2024, 5:58pm

BELLINGHAM — Washington’s Department of Natural Resources issued a burn ban on all the forest land it controls across the state, effective Wednesday, July 10. The ban, which runs through Sept. 30, was enacted in response to the heat wave that’s hit much of Washington over the past week, according to Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

“The record-breaking temperatures we are seeing this week have left our state bone dry,” Franz stated in a news release. “I am asking everyone in Washington to do their part to protect our firefighters and our communities this summer. Please do not start a fire outside and stay alert when you are outdoors.”

What kinds of fires are covered by the ban?

The ban covers “burning, campfires, the use of charcoal briquettes, and prescribed burns,” according to the DNR’s news release. However, it contains an exception for prescribed fires for “ecological purposes and community protection,” but they must receive prior approval and be carried out in accordance with DNR rules.

Which areas are under a burn ban?

DNR operates nearly 6 million acres of land across the state, including 3.3 million acres of state trust land. The ban applies to the 2 million acres of Washington’s forests controlled by the department, as well as any other lands under DNR’s fire protection jurisdiction. DNR land includes several popular hiking trails and camping areas across the state. You can check the department’s burn restriction map online to see if a specific area is affected.

A map of all DNR-controlled land can also be found on its website along with a list of the recreational areas it controls.

DNR operates separately from the Washington State Parks department. However, some state parks have an agreement giving DNR jurisdiction of their fire protection measures. You can check the parks department’s website to see which state parks currently fall under a burn ban.

Wildfires in Washington this year

Less than a month into the summer, Washington has already seen 695 fires in 2024, according to DNR’s wildfire dashboard. Most of the state is currently under what the department classifies as high or very high wildfire risk.