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Caution urged this weekend as wildfire conditions intensify across Eastern Washington
Bone dry conditions combined with high winds will boost the potential for wildfire to very high levels starting early Sunday in Washington counties east of the Cascade Mountains.
“This weekend we will see dry fuels and high winds that give us two of the three elements that can start a catastrophic wildfire. The third element is the tiniest spark. We are asking everyone to take extra care this weekend to avoid any risk of providing that spark,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said. “We have already lost 61 homes to wildfire this year, with more threatened in the Columbia Gorge; we cannot afford the risk of more human-caused wildfires.”
Winds up to 40 miles per hour are predicted, starting Sunday through Monday, from the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the state’s eastern border. The combination of high winds and extremely dry grasses and other fuels will greatly increase the potential for wildfire this weekend.
Wildfires are often started by lightning, but many fires are caused by people. The most destructive fire threats to Washington State’s wildlands and private property in rural areas stem from three sources: carelessly tended campfires, recreational activities and sparks caused by equipment or vehicles.
Statewide burn ban
In an effort to reduce human-caused wildfires, Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands, effective July 1, 2012, through September 30, 2012. The ban includes all forestlands in Washington except for federal lands, which have their own published restrictions. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host before starting a campfire.