Severe fire conditions we have not seen in our lifetime

Firefighter using a backfire technique at Table Mountain Fire. Photo: Diana Lofflin, DNR

Don’t let the chilly nights and shorter days fool you; we are in severe Red Flag Warning across Washington State and Oregon.

Washington State had no measureable rain in August and just experienced the third driest September on record. Our current trend of eastwardly driven winds dries fuels overnight and the land does not have an opportunity to recover from the day’s wind and sun. This means that grasses, brush, and trees can light with even a tiny spark.

If this were a normal season, hunters and recreationalists would be preparing to build warming fires and go out on their dirt bikes…but this is not a normal season. Campfires and any open flames are prohibited on both DNR and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife state-managed lands.

Fire Prevention Guide

It takes years for ecosystems to recover from the devastating effects of wildfire. Remember to stay fire safe this weekend. Photo: Diana Lofflin, DNR.


What can you do? Caution is key. Even the tiniest spark can turn into a catastrophic wildfire.

Here are the rules for state-managed land; however, with conditions so severe, you may want to apply them wherever you go.

  • Fires and campfires are prohibited – Personal camp stoves and lanterns are still allowed; however, extra caution is advised. Check out what happened when a home owner used an illegal burn barrel.
  • Smoking – If you need to smoke, make sure you smoke in an enclosed vehicle. With the Red Flag Warning in effect across most of Washington and Oregon, even the tiniest of sparks can cause a wildfire.
  • Target shooting – Use established shooting ranges.
  • Welding and the use of chainsaws and other equipment – On WDFW-managed lands, operating a torch with an open flame and equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
  • Operating a motor vehicle off developed roads – Do not park any vehicle in dry, grassy areas, as the heat from the exhaust system can ignite the dry grass. If you are operating a recreational vehicle, be sure you have a spark arrester.

The extreme fire weather will continue into the coming weekend and many normal October outdoor activities, such as outdoor fires, could lead to devastating wildfires. For information about hunting closures and restrictions on DNR-managed lands, see our Hunting Alert

As you head out the door, be sure you make a fire safety checklist to keep yourself, others, and wildlife safe from human-caused wildfires.

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