It’s dry – and it’s getting drier. According to local meteorologists, if the current long-range weather forecast holds, this June could be one of the driest on record. A DNR official stated in a recent interview that local native grasses have moisture levels not usually experienced until late July.
This past Sunday, June 21st, Eastside Fire & Rescue responded with fire units from the City of Snoqualmie, Fall City Fire District 27, and Bellevue Fire to a report of smoke in the area of I-90 and SR-18.
The fire was eventually traced a private property on the Upper Preston Road where despite the burn ban, the owner reported he had been burning weeds and other debris and the fire got out of control.
According to Eastside Fire & Rescue, eleven units with 24 personnel spent several hours fighting, then overhauling the one-acre fire to ensure it would not spread further into the nearby woods. The King County Sheriff’s Office Fire Investigation Unit is currently investigating the incident.
EF&R annal burning moratorium began on June 15th and runs until at least September 30th, 2015. This week that moratorium was joined by bans in unincorporated King County, as well as lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The phase 1 burn ban applies to all outdoor burning, except for small recreational fires in established fire pits at approved camp grounds or private property with the owner’s permission. Gas and propane self-contained stoves and barbeques are allowed under the ban.
According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, King County is currently at moderate risk for wildfire danger. Just to the east of the Cascades in Kittitas County, that risk is high.
Local firefighters are already dealing with a very active fire season due to dry weather. EF&R said from March 1st – June 21 of this year, it battled 60 bark, brush and wild land fires – compared to only 17 such fires during the same period in 2014.
EF&R says it needs the community’s help to keep local homes and the environment safe from wildfires this year, especially as the drought and unseasonably warm weather continues – and the 4th of July holiday weekend approaches.
Firefighters encourage citizens to consider enjoying 4th of July celebrations at community fireworks displays, instead of using personal fireworks. Both Carnation and Bellevue offer nearby fireworks shows.
Seasonal Burning Moratorium Reminders
- Outdoor cooking or recreational burning (campfires) require a no-fee burn permit that can be obtained online at: www.eastsidefire-rescue.org.
- Puget Sound Clean Air Agency may impose a countywide burn ban for air-quality conditions.
- King County Fire Marshal’s Office may impose a burn ban due to extreme fire danger.
- Brush fires significantly increase during the summer months and can grow quickly.
- You can help protect your home against wildfires by building a defensible space around your home: www.firewise.org or www.eastsidefire-rescue.org.
Recreational Fires Must:
- Be built in a metal or concrete fire pit, such as those typically found in designated campgrounds; and not be used as debris disposal;
- Grow no larger than three feet in diameter;
- Be located in a clear spot free from any vegetation for at least 10 feet in a horizontal direction, including at least 25 feet away from any structure and allow 20-foot vertical clearance from overhanging branches;
- Be attended at all times by an alert individual and equipment capable of extinguishing the fire.