FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2009
DNR urges wildfire awareness this Fourth of July
Rising temperatures and drying vegetation increases the chance for wildfires
OLYMPIA – Before leaving for Fourth of July weekend activities, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds the public to be aware of any fire restrictions in place around the state due to the rising fire danger. Because the weather is warming up and vegetation is drying out, fires can ignite quickly.
“We hope you and your family enjoy a safe holiday weekend—this is a time to be extra careful with campfires and other outdoor activities,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.
So far, there have been more than 230 wildfires on the public and private lands DNR protects from wildfire ¬– well above the average number of fires at this point in the fire season. Not surprisingly, DNR records show fire danger is highest Saturday and Sunday afternoons when the woods fill up with recreationists and woodcutters. Unattended campfires, faulty vehicle or motorcycle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes, and outdoor burning also boost the Fourth of July weekend forest fire potential. DNR fire prevention teams will be out this holiday weekend in some eastern Washington locations to remind people of the fire danger and of any fire restrictions in the area.
To check for fire danger and outdoor burning restrictions by county, see the state burn risk map at: http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger . Alternately, go to www.dnr.wa.gov. Click on ‘fire information and prevention’ and go to ‘wildfire related maps.’ The link to the burn risk map is in the bottom right-hand corner.
Fire safety tips
Here are some helpful tips to help keep this a fun and enjoyable weekend:
- Before discharging fireworks, check to see if they are allowed in that location. It is illegal to discharge fireworks on state protected and public lands;
- Be sure recreational vehicles have operating spark arresters;
- Do not park any vehicles in dry, grassy areas as the heat from exhaust systems can ignite the dry grass;
- Never leave a campfire unattended, and be sure it is completely out before leaving the area.
For those staying closer to home, this is a good time to reduce the risk of wildfire to your home and property by taking the following actions:
- Do an exterior home inspection;
- Remove moss and needles from the roof and rain gutters;
- Clear vegetation and flammable materials from around propane tanks;
- Stack firewood at least 30 feet from the house;
- Keep decorative bark and railroad ties away from the foundation—these types of materials provide great places for sparks to smolder;
- Trim trees to ten feet off the ground for tall trees and adjust for shorter trees; this helps reduce fuels that aid in fire traveling;
- Maintain defensible space around the home, which is the large, open area firefighters use to defend homes during a wildfire event.
For more information on creating defensible space around homes, contact a local landscape and nursery professional or a DNR region office for a free copy of Fire Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes.
In Washington, outdoor burning is a leading cause of wildfire ignitions. Please follow the rules and call the local fire authorities before lighting any pile. Weather conditions can change rapidly when burning outdoors.
Before burning, check local conditions and restrictions by calling 1-800-323-BURN (2876) or going to http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger .
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 in Washington. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 375 seasonal workers. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.
Media Contact: Janet Pearce, Community Outreach and Environmental Education, 360-902-1122, firstname.lastname@example.org
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