Wildfire season officially begins
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Wildfire season officially begins 

April 15, 2010
Wildfire season officially begins
Restrictions for workers and recreational visitors to DNR-protected lands in effect April 15 through October 15

OLYMPIA – Even with recent snow in the mountains, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark urges all Washingtonians to be prepared before the fire season starts to heat up.

“We are encouraging people to take action now to protect their homes and property from a wildfire,” said Commissioner Goldmark. “The steps homeowners take now to create defensible space around their property will pay dividends this summer by reducing the wildfire risk.”

Defensible space is the area around homes that minimizes common fire hazards typically found around homes, such as flammable vegetation, and it creates a safe zone for firefighters to defend those homes. Local landscape and nursery professionals are a great source for landscaping tips. Also, log on to www.firewise.org for more information on fire behavior and ways to reduce the risk of wildfire to your home and property.

Fifteen forest fires have already been reported this year on lands protected by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Last year, there were a total of 1,044 fires that burned approximately 17,000 acres. Ninety-six percent of the wildfires that burned on DNR-protected lands in 2009 were contained to less than 10 acres in size.

Dry and unhealthy forests are continually a fire hazard and will be for many years. It only takes a spark to start a fire that can have catastrophic results. Fire prevention can help reduce the risk of expensive, disruptive wildfires that damage habitat for birds, fish and wildlife. These fires also destroy homes and threaten the safety of the public and the firefighters who protect these forests and communities.

Washington’s summer fire rules
Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through October 15. These rules apply to the 12.7 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 at the job site, in good working order, with 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.

Daily fire risk ratings available by phone and Internet
Woods workers and industrial forest users also must observe Industrial Fire Precaution Levels, which may change daily and which classify varying levels of fire danger in different parts of the state. More information is available from the following sources:

  • DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov. Click on Fire & Burning Regulations to review regional precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones, and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin. 

  • DNR’s toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays 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. 

  • DNR e-mail at RPD@dnr.wa.gov. Ask questions or request a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin or additional information on safe outdoor burning of forest debris and safe recreational campfire tips.

DNR’s wildfire mission
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.7 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with over a thousand employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over seven hundred DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 375 seasonal workers.  Additionally, Department of Correction inmates participate in the DNR correctional camps program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

**Attention Radio Editors: Download audio Public Service Announcements on wildfire prevention from Commissioner Goldmark. Scripts also are available.

Media Contact:  
Aaron Toso, Director of Communications & Outreach, 360-902-1023, aaron.toso@dnr.wa.gov

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