Fire Prevention Week is timely this year, as continued dry conditions spur extended burn bans and a Red Flag Warning for much of the area through this afternoon, Oct. 6, due to a dry east wind.
In the first five days of the month, Eastside Fire & Rescue (EF&R) has responded to six brush fires, compared to nine brush fires during the entire month of September, including a brush fire that damaged Cougar Mountain Park earlier this week.
Because of the high fire danger, the annual outdoor burn ban within the service area of EF&R has been extended to Oct. 20, 2012. Grass and brush (fuels) remain much drier than normal for this time of year. There is a possibility that the ban could be extended again if we continue this dry weather pattern.
Meanwhile, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has extended its burn ban on the states public lands through Oct. 15. In a press release on Friday, the department said the current danger of extreme fire weather in Western Washington is expected to continue into the weekend.
The ban on outdoor burning applies to all DNR-protected public, private and tribal lands on both sides of the Cascade Mountains.
The National Weather Service expects Washington has had no measureable rain in August, and September was the third driest on record. The current red flag warning was spurred by an unusual weather pattern causing relative humidity to remain uncharacteristically low overnight. The exceptionally low overnight humidity causes grasses, brush and other ‘fuels’ to become bone dry.
“We have not seen wildfire conditions this bad in October in a lifetime,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “I’m concerned that the shorter days and colder weather will lull some people into thinking it’s safe to build campfires or bonfires. We need everyone to be cautious, alert and aware of the burn restrictions.”
The 12 million acres affected by the ban includes all forestlands in Washington, except for federal lands which have their own published restrictions. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host before starting a campfire.
To learn how you can protect your home and community go to: www.firewise.org.
--Information from Eastside Fire & Rescue and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources