Washington Land Managers Warn Fire Danger Persists With High Winds This Week

Information on public fire danger signs comes from the Nation Fire Danger Rating System, which is being updated for the first time in more than four decades. CREDIT: JACOB FRANK/NPS
File photo. Information on public fire danger signs comes from the National Fire Danger Rating System, which is being updated for the first time in more than four decades. CREDIT: JACOB FRANK/NPS

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Don’t be fooled by the fall weather and cold temps hitting the Northwest this week. Washington officials are warning people to keep an eye on outdoor burning this time of year. It can still spark a fire, especially with strong winds whipping through the state Monday night through Tuesday morning.

Gusts up to 50 mph are expected on the western side of the Cascade foothills. High winds can cause sparks to fly more than a mile away.

Janet Pearce, a spokesperson for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, said people need to keep an eye on outdoor burns – and have water nearby.

“Accidents happen. You know you’ve got your burn pile going, but then maybe a breeze picks up, and it can change things,” Pearce said.

While forests are fairly wet and won’t burn as easily in fall, Pearce said the same isn’t true for the drier side of the state.

“People think it’s going to be hard to start a fire, but not with the low grasses and brush that we have right now. If anything catches on grassland or shrubs, it’ll just take off, still,” she said.

In outdoor burns, you can only burn natural vegetation, such as yard debris. It’s also illegal to use metal burn barrels. That’s because over time, the bottom can burn through and start a much larger fire.

Officials also ask you to check for any restrictions or permits you may need lighting an outdoor fire. 

For Washington state information, call 1-800-323-BURN. You should also check for local burn bans here from the state Department of Ecology.

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Firefighters watch and take video with their cellphones as a plane drops fire retardant on Harlow Ridge above the Lick Creek Fire, southwest of Asotin, Wash., on July 12, 2021. The fire, which started last Wednesday, has burned over 50,000 acres of land between Asotin County and Garfield County in southeast Washington. CREDIT: Pete Caster/Lewiston Tribune via AP

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