Total outdoor burn ban begins

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources has banned all outdoor burning on its lands, including areas on Whidbey Island.

Island County followed suit, with Sheriff Mark Brown as the county’s fire marshal, banning all fires in the county as of July 31.

Hot and dry conditions have made the potential for wildfire unusually high on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, according to a news release from the DNR.

The ban is in effect through Sept. 30 and prohibits campfires in developed campgrounds and other recreational fires and also prohibits prescribed burns. It applies to all forestlands in Washington except federal lands and prohibits campfires in all state, local and private campgrounds.

“The risk of wildfire is unusually high and the consequences could be catastrophic,” said DNR Commissioner Peter Goldmark in a statement.

“We have hundreds of firefighters fighting two major wildfires and numerous smaller fires in Washington state. Our resources are stretched thin.”

Wildfires are often ignited by lightning, and this week’s weather forecasts indicate a significant potential for lightning-caused wildfires. Most fires are caused by human activities. Some of the most destructive fire threats to the state’s wildlands and homes in rural areas can be traced to three sources: carelessly tended outdoor fires, indefensible home sites, and sparks caused by equipment or vehicles.

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