April 11, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 51

Washington's wildfire season officially begins April 15

Prevention measures to protect life and property are in effect through Oct. 15 on 12.9 million acres of Department of Natural Resources-protected lands

OLYMPIA – Regardless of the wet, rainy spring, wildfire season officially begins April 15, as specified by state law.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding people that the risk of wildfires can change rapidly during the spring when warmer, dryer weather occurs with increasing frequency. Wildfires can damage natural resources, destroy homes, and threaten the safety of the public and the firefighters who protect forests and communities.

As of April 8, 17 forest fires have already been reported this year on lands protected by DNR. During last year, a total of 794 fires burned approximately 68,347 acres. In 2012, 94 percent of the wildfires that burned on DNR-protected lands were contained to less than 10 acres in size. Overall, 79 percent of the wildfires on DNR-protected lands in 2012 were human-caused.

Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through Oct. 15. These rules apply to the 12.9 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 in good working order at the job site and 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, gravels pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.

The department advises people to take appropriate action to prevent wildfires and protect property before the vegetation dries out and fire risk increases.

This year, DNR is encouraging homeowners, land managers, first responders, developers, business owners, and civic leaders to focus on “Knowing Your Role” when it comes to preparing communities for wildfire. Visit fireadapted.org to learn more about defensible space, fire-resilient building construction, community wildfire prevention planning and the Firewise and Ready, Set, Go! Programs.

DNR provides several ways to stay connected during wildfire season such as Twitter at twitter.com/waDNR_fire, the fire update site at www.dnr.wa.gove/Publications/rp_fire_currentfireinfodailyupdates.pdf and the Incident Information System (InciWeb) at www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Daily fire risk ratings are available by phone and Internet at the department’s site at www.dnr.wa.gov and click on “Fire Information” to review regional precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin. Individuals can also call toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 to hear a message identifying daily industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region. The hearing impaired can phone Telephone Device for the Deaf at 1-800-833-6388.

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