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Prolonged Dry Conditions Cause Extreme Wildfire Hazard

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) asks the public to be cautious, alert, and aware of burn restrictions across Washington State.

Wildfire activity escalated in recently after thunderstorms, many with little or no moisture, moved across parts of California, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, and spared hundreds of new fires. The fire forecast for most of the western U.S. calls for hot and dry weather to continue into the fall.

While the likelihood of fires is high, resources available to fight fires are stretched thin. The National Interagency Fire Center has moved the National Wildfire Preparedness Level to the highest level, PL-5, indicating that fire suppression resources are becoming scarce. Of DNR’s five interagency incident management teams, two teams are staffing wildfires in Washington.

The other teams are replenishing their resources after suppressing several large fires, including the Mile Marker 28 and Colockum Tarps fires, which consumed a combined area in excess of 100,000 acres.

In addition, DNR personnel continue to extinguish numerous smaller fires almost every day. And, consistent with mutual aid agreements, DNR has sent personnel and equipment to Oregon to help contain wildfires on the other side of the state line.

DNR is part of an interagency partnership of federal, tribal, state, and local agencies. When fire-fighting resources are stretched thin, the partners work together to assess and rank wildfires by priority so that personnel and equipment can be dispatched as quickly as possible to those fires that threaten life, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources.

Currently, there is a statewide burn ban on 13 million acres of forestlands in Washington. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host or the local fire district before starting a campfire.

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