Peninsula fire danger high

Complete burn bans in place

The state Department of Natural Resources has elevated the fire threat level to high in both counties on the North Olympic Peninsula and both Jefferson and Clallam counties have instituted compete burn bans.

Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest also have put into place a complete ban on all campfires, including charcoal.

“The danger is high on the whole North Olympic Peninsula,” said Phyllis Speser, public information officer for East Jefferson Fire Rescue, on Saturday.

The upgrade in Clallam County and the national park and forest occurred on Friday, catching them up to the complete burn ban instituted in East Jefferson County on July 2.

A complete burn ban prohibits all outdoor burning, including recreational fires, pits and the use of charcoal briquettes with the exception of propane fire appliances that are at least 5 feet away from anything that is combustible, according to George Bailey, Clallam County fire marshal, in a press release.

The burn ban on federal land is in alignment with DNR’s prohibition against all fires on state lands.

Any outdoor burning is illegal, federal spokespeople said in a press release.

The ban includes the coastal areas of Olympic National Park.

“Gas or propane camp stoves may still be used in the wilderness backcountry and campgrounds, but should be operated well away from flammable vegetation and forest litter,” the release said.

“Extreme caution is urged with any open flame.”

Speser echoed that.

“A flicked cigarette in dry grass by the side of the road causes a brush fire sometimes,” she said.

“Make sure that anything you are smoking is fully out before you throw it away.”

To protect property, maintain a 30-foot defensible space buffer from any structure as a first line of defense against wildfires, Bailey said.

Both the Northwest region and the nation remain at a Preparedness Level 5 — the highest level of wildland fire activity, according to the federal spokespeople, who add that most firefighting resources are already deployed to the large numbers of wildfires in the West.

“All of western Washington, including the Peninsula, is extremely dry this year,” said Todd Rankin, fire management officer for Olympic Interagency Fire Management.

“By following these restrictions, visitors can help reduce the chance of unintentional fires, especially when firefighting resources are stretched thin with an already very active fire season across the west.”

“We cannot emphasize enough the importance of people adhering to the burn ban,” Speser said.

“We have seen so many small fires that could have become nightmares,” without prompt action on the part of firefighters.

“It’s very, very dry out there,” she said.

For more information, check with the National Fire Protection Association of local fire districts.

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