Washington Governor Issues Wildfire Emergency, Wider Burn Ban As Hot, Dry Conditions Persist

The National Weather Service is warning of high fire danger this week with thunderstorms, lightning and wind expected late Tuesday night into Wednesday, July 7. CREDIT: NWS via Twitter
The National Weather Service is warning of high fire danger this week with thunderstorms, lightning and wind expected late Tuesday night into Wednesday, July 7. CREDIT: NWS via Twitter

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ALSO SEE: Northwest Wildfire Coverage And Resources From NWPB

First a drought. Then record heat. Now Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a statewide wildfire state of emergency.

With few exceptions most outdoor and agricultural burning will be prohibited through September. The governor is making a few exceptions for the use of gas-fueled stoves with certain precautions and charcoal grills at private residences if done away from vegetation and flammable surfaces. But otherwise this is a statewide prohibition on burning.

 

The proclamation also activates the Washington National Guard if needed to assist with fighting wildfires. Inslee says he’s taking this action because of abnormally high temperatures and dry weather which have led to dangerous fire conditions statewide.

A Red Flag Warning for high fire danger is in effect for much of the Inland Northwest east of the Cascades due to possible thunderstorms, lightning and wind late Tuesday night through Wednesday. 

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A map showing large fires that have burned so far this year in Washington. The different colored areas represent different land ownership boundaries. (Courtesy of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center)

What impacts did wildfires have on the Northwest this summer?

Autumn has knocked on our doors and crossed our thresholds. With its arrival comes wetter, colder, darker days — perhaps some pumpkin-flavored treats as well — and hopefully, fewer wildfires. Heavy recent rainfall has dropped the wildfire potential outlook down to normal for the Northwest, according to the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook.
So, how did this summer fare compared to past fire seasons?

The Sourdough Fire has consumed 1,710 acres of forest since starting July 29. // CREDIT: Washington State Department of Transportation North on Twitter.

Part of HWY 20 reopened, firefighters still actively working in area as Sourdough Fire burns

Scenic State Route 20 which runs through North Cascades National Park is now reopened.
The highway had been closed between Newhalem and Rainy Pass in Whatcom County, as it is the main access point for firefighters working the Sourdough Fire. Mark Enty, public information officer with Northwest Incident Management Team 10, said crews are still working in the area and drivers should be extra cautious.