Wildfire season officially begins April 15th
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Wildfire season officially begins April 15th 

April 3, 2012
Wildfire season officially begins April 15th
Prevention measures to protect life and property are in effect April 15 through October 15 on 12.7 million acres of DNR-protected lands

OLYMPIA – Regardless of the snow and rain, wildfire season officially begins April 15, as specified by state law.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to remind 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 March 29, thirteen forest fires have already been reported this year on lands protected by DNR. During last year, a total of 549 fires burned approximately 7,604 acres. In 2011, ninety-seven percent of the wildfires that burned on DNR-protected lands were contained to less than 10 acres in size. Overall, 94 percent of the wildfires on DNR-protected lands in 2011 were human-caused.

DNR wants to remind people that, before the vegetation dries out and fire risk increases, they should take appropriate action to prevent wildfires and protect their property in the event of wildfire. Homeowners in fire-prone areas are encouraged to consider participation in the Firewise Communities Program (http://www.firewise.org).  Firewise teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire danger and encourages neighbors to work together and take action now to prevent losses. We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and each other from the risk of wildfire.

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.

Stay connected during wildfire season

Daily fire risk ratings available by phone and Internet
Industrial Fire Precaution Levels (IFPL) may change daily and classify varying levels of fire danger in different parts of the state. People who work in the woods must observe the IFPL. 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 email 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 1,000 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, Department of Corrections’ adult offenders and Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration juvenile offenders participate in the DNR correctional camps program. DNR also participates in Washington's coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

Media Contact: Janet Pearce, Community Outreach and Education, 360-902-1122, janet.pearce@dnr.wa.gov  

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