Happy Birthday fuzzy, old bear! Smokey Bear turns 69 years old – and his message still bears repeating

Everyone smiles when Smokey's around PHOTO: Jessica Payne/DNR
Everyone smiles when Smokey’s around PHOTO: Jessica Payne/DNR

Happy Birthday, Smokey Bear! So far, with Smokey’s help, Washington State has done an amazing job of preventing many wildfires this summer. Our sincere thanks to those who have reported suspicious smoke plumes and who remember the statewide current ban on all outdoor burning (including campfires). But there’s still a lot of work to do.

According to Smokey, 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by people. That’s why it’s so important to be careful this time of year.

Please be alert to fire dangers
You may have noticed that the grasses along the freeways and highways have dried out. This means a fire can start at the drop of a spark from exhaust, a cigarette, or an ember from a campfire. Our weather is warm and dry …well, except for those pesky morning clouds in some places. Be on the lookout for lightning strikes, as we are expecting numerous lightning storms over the weekend. So help Smokey out; if you see a fire start. report it to 800-562-6010.  

Since his ‘birth’ on August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear’s message about wildfire prevention has helped to reduce the number of acres burned annually by wildfires from about 22 million (1944) to an average of 7 million today. Take a look at the real Smokey Bear from 1950.

The original Smokey was a cub found in a New Mexico forest fire, clinging to a tree, and fighting for his life. That forest fire was caused by a human throwing a match on the ground. Firefighters were able to save Smokey and, ever since, he has been “spokesbear” for wildfire prevention.

Here’s a chance to make wildfire prevention fun for your children. Have them play games with Smokey Bear. These games are an educational tool about wildfire prevention and very cool!

Whatever you choose as a teachable moment for wildfire prevention, know that a statewide burn ban is in effect through September 30 on all DNR-protected land and, yes, this does mean no campfires allowed.

Does Smokey have a middle name?
No! Smokey Bear does not have a middle name. The ‘the’ was added to keep in time with the rhythm of the song.

For many years, just like Smokey, DNR has reached out to the public to help us prevent wildfires before they start. And they’re starting to pop up around Washington. Please keep in mind that a fire can start very easily this time of year. Be aware and please help us prevent wildfires from starting.

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