The fire danger continues to increase across Washington, and officials are urging residents to recognize that even seemingly low-risk activities, such as parking on a grassy field or using yard tools, can spark a wildfire.
Thirty-seven of the state’s 39 counties have declared burn bans, including Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has banned fires on all lands protected by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, but even those protections don’t protect residents from wildfire.
“Most people are responsible and use good judgment,” said Mary Verner, DNR’s Deputy Supervisor for Resource Protection. “On the other hand, most wildfires are human-caused. We want to alert people to the extremely hazardous conditions and ask that they take extra precaution even with routine and seemingly safe activities.”
Bruce Bjork, Chief of Enforcement for WDFW, said people driving off-road can start a fire simply by driving across or parking on a grassy field, like those that exist at most of the department’s nearly 200 wildlife area units.
“Dry grass touching a vehicle’s hot exhaust system could start a major fire, especially when the wind is blowing,” said Bjork. “If you’re driving through the woods or open range, please stay on the road surface until you find a paved or graveled area to park.”
A frequent cause of brush fires, particularly in urban areas, is simple smoker’s carelessness.
“In this day and age, we are still seeing brush fires on the sides of our highways caused by people tossing out their lit cigarettes,” said Washington State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy. “Tossing a lit cigarette from a vehicle isn’t just littering. It’s a separate violation that could cost you a $1,025 fine.”
Officials are urging everyone to be careful with all outdoor activities to prevent wildfires from occurring locally.