Campfires are in but virtually all other types of burning is out in state-owned forests following the start last Sunday of a statewide burn ban.
The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the ban will be in effect on all DNR-protected land through Sept. 30. The only exceptions will be recreationl fires in approved pits in designated campgrounds, gas and propane stoves and barbecues, and DNR-approved fires for the purpose of improving ecosystems.
The ban is intended to thwart wildfires during dry summer months to come. Already this year, 434 acres of DNR land have been burned by 35 wildfires caused by burn piles that got out of control, officials said.
“Wildfires are dangerous for people and property and result in large expenditures of public funding that can be avoided through prevention,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.
Examples of where the ban is in effect include Elbe Hills State Forest.
Federal forests and recreational land, such as Mount Rainier National Park, aren’t part of the state regulation.
DNR essentially is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with 1,000-plus employees trained to fight wildfires and foreest fires. That number includes more than 700 employees who have other jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal personnel hired for firefighting duties.