Washington's wildfire season has officially begun, and all Washington citizens are urged to help prevent wildfires and forest fires.
"With fire season upon us, we want to remind people how quickly vegetation can dry out and then carry fire if ignited," said Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. "With help from everyone, the damage and expense of wildfires this year can be reduced significantly."
Goldmark said at this time of year, state residents should assess their property and take steps to develop defensible space around their homes.
"The key is to take actions before there is actual risk from a wildfire," Goldmark explained.
Seventeen forest fires have already been reported this year on lands protected by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Last year, 93 percent of wildfires on lands protected by the DNR were contained at less than 10 acres. A total of more than 76,076 acres burned all across Washington.
Washington's "summer fire rules" are in effect from April 15 through Oct. 15. The rules apply to the 12.7 million acres of private and state forestlands protected from wildfire by DNR.
These regulations affect loggers, firewood cutters, land clearers, road builders, bulldozer operators, off-road motorcyclists, and others. During fire season, people using motorized equipment in the woods must have approved spark arresters and follow fire safety precautions. In addition, those working in the woods must have fire prevention and extinguishing equipment at the job site, in good working order, with staff trained in its proper use.
The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread. Those same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas to roads, gravel pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.
Woods workers and industrial forest users also must observe "Industrial Fire Precaution Levels," which may change daily and which classify varying levels of fire danger in different parts of the state.
DNR's toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays a message identifying daily industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region.