‘Explosive’ potential for fire danger on West End, in East Jefferson

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for the West End of the North Olympic Peninsula as well as the southern portion of East Jefferson County that refers to “explosive” fire potential.

The warning, which is for the entire Olympic Peninsula, will be in effect until 3 p.m. Saturday.

“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential,” according to the warning issued by the National Weather Service at 8:33 a.m. Thursday.

Winds are forecast at 10 to 15 mph with gusts of 20 miles per hour, while ridges on the northwest side of the Olympic Peninsula will experience winds of 15 to 20 mph, with gusts of 30 to 35 mph, the Weather Service said.

Humidity is expected to drop to as low as 15 percent during the day and reach only 30 percent during overnight hours, the warning said.

Burn bans

Burn bans already were in place in the region.

Campfires are all but forbidden for residents and campers in the West End.

The only fires permitted are those at residences or in developed campgrounds, in contained and approved fire pits, with the use of a fire screen and attended by a responsible person to monitor the fire until the ashes are cool to the touch, Forks Fire District Chief Phil Arbeiter said Wednesday afternoon.

Residents are asked to clear defensible space around their homes and driveways, and to clear their roofs of combustible leaves and needles, Arbeiter said.

Arbeiter said throwing cigarette butts out of a car window are one of the most common causes of roadside fires, along with cars pulling off the road, where the hot undercarriage of the car can spark fires in grass.

“There is currently a $1,000 fine for throwing items out a car window,” he said.

Unseasonably dry conditions and continuing wildfires in Central Washington prompted Clallam County to extend its annual burn ban indefinitely.

Clallam County firefighting resources are limited because local crews are assisting with blazes near Wenatchee, Fire Marshal Sheila Roark Miller said last week.

East Jefferson County

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue extended its outdoor burn ban to Oct. 15.

The state Department of Natural Resources usually lifts its statewide ban for outdoor burning annually Oct. 1 but extended its burn ban through Sunday.

“The conditions for new fires still exist, even as we head into October,” state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said in a plea for caution.

“We are taking the unprecedented step of extending the burn ban and asking everyone to be patient and vigilant until we see some rain,” Goldmark said.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 04. 2012 5:37PM
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