Burn piles, smoke cause alarm

A handful of emergency calls were made this weekend when South Whidbey residents saw smoke.

None of the reports led to brush or structure fires.

“People are antsy,” said South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Jon Beck, who was the on-duty officer over the weekend. “As things are drying out, they’re being vigilant.”

Beck noted a heightened awareness of smoke and fire because of the recent string of hot, dry and sometimes windy days which dries out vegetation on South Whidbey. He also said that lots of the calls come from people who are not familiar with Island County’s legal burn permits, as opposed to other neighboring counties and cities which do not allow open-field burns.

Last week, the fire protection district had to put out a large burn that was beginning to spread to nearby brush. In that case, Beck did not believe it was a county-permitted burn because the documentation was never provided to him. When South Whidbey Fire/EMS arrives at a controlled burn — the type used to dispose of unwanted yard waste — an officer will ask about the county burn permit.


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