Labor Day Weekend brings vital need for fire safety

The Carlton Complex fires started on July 14 by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. Photo: Jacob McCann
The Carlton Complex fires started on July 14 by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. Photo: Jacob McCann/DNR.

As the last holiday weekend of summer arrives, please be careful when driving a vehicle, tending a campfire, or using tools outdoors over this Labor Day weekend. These are just a few activities that can ignite a wildfire.

This has been an unprecedented fire season for Washington state, and DNR has responded to well over 1,000 fires this year.

Please program this important number in your cell phone before you head out: 800-562-6010. It’s a direct line to report forest fires.

Another recommended ‘to-do’ before leaving home to go camping or hiking is checking for local restrictions on campfires. DNR’s burn risk map lists outdoor burning restrictions by county. Campgrounds may choose to ban open fires, so always check with the campground host before lighting your campfire.

In areas where campfires are allowed, DNR asks the public to follow these suggestions:

  • Clear all vegetation away from the fire ring (remove all flammable materials, such as needles, leaves, branches, etc.).
  • Keep your campfire small.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended!

Put it out!

Don't let your spark do this to the forest! Photo: Mike Minion
Don’t let your spark do this to the forest!
Photo: Mike Minion/DNR.

When putting out your campfire, you should:

  • First, drown the campfire with water.
  • Next, mix the ashes and embers with soil. Scrape all partially burned sticks and logs to make sure all the hot embers are removed.
  • Stir the embers after they are covered with water and make sure everything is wet.
  • Feel the coals, embers, and any partially burned wood with your hands; everything should be cool to the touch.
  • When you think you are done, take an extra minute and add more water. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again.
  • If you don’t have water, use moist dirt. Be careful not to bury any hot or burning material, as it can smolder and later reignite.
  • If it’s too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

In an effort to reduce human-caused wildfires, DNR issued a statewide burn ban on all lands under the department’s protection, effective through September 30, 2014. The ban applies to all forestlands in Washington state, except federal lands. While campfires are allowed in approved pits west of the Cascade Mountains in designated state, local and private campgrounds, they are not allowed east of the Cascade Mountains.

 

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