FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2010
Next week is Wildfire Awareness Week
Swap burn barrels for free compost bins at upcoming events
OLYMPIA – Wildfire Awareness Week is next week, May 2-8, and focuses on educating people about the dangers that wildfires pose to people, property and the environment in Washington.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) are working together to reduce the number of wildfires in the state and to prevent health problems caused by breathing smoke. Outdoor burning, which is illegal in most parts of Washington, is a leading cause of wildfire ignitions across the state.
As part of their effort for Wildfire Awareness Week, DNR and Ecology will exchange free composting bins for burn barrels during upcoming events. The use of burn barrels is illegal statewide. A federal grant from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for wildfire prevention is making this project possible.
“Every year in Washington, preventable wildfires threaten property and lives,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Citizens should take advantage of this exchange to help lessen the risk of fire and reduce smoke.”
Events are planned in Ferry, Grant, Island, Kittitas, Lewis, Okanogan, Pacific, Skagit, and Stevens counties. Other counties also may take part. Ecology will post details soon on its website.
“We’re pleased to work with Commissioner Goldmark and DNR on a project that protects the health of Washington’s residents and environment,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “Breathing smoke can cause serious health problems, such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer – even in generally healthy people.”
Similar events held last year in Stevens and Okanogan counties brought in a total of about 200 barrels. The barrels were destroyed.
Commissioner Goldmark also states, “It’s important to remember that when creating defensible space around your home, you can help protect yourself and your neighbors by composting instead of burning your yard debris.”
Goldmark urges homeowners and others to learn how to reduce the risk of wildfire damage to homes and property.
Children, the elderly and people with breathing problems are most at risk from breathing smoke from burning leaves, grass, brush, and tree needles.
“It’s much like breathing cigarette smoke,” said Julie Oliver, an environmental planner in Ecology’s Air Quality Program. Oliver said that homeowners can compost or chip yard waste to use for landscaping and other purposes.
Ecology offers information on what you can do with yard waste.
To report or comment on illegal outdoor burning or smoke pollution, call Ecology’s toll-free line at 1-866-211-6284.
Janet Pearce, DNR Communications and Outreach, 360-902-1122, email@example.com
Seth Preston, Ecology, 360-407-6848, firstname.lastname@example.org
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