PORT ANGELES — Authorized timber harvest slash-burn fires will begin at two locations in Olympic National Forest west of Port Angeles after Sunday, when the statewide ban on outdoor burning that exempts recreational fires will be lifted, fire officials said Wednesday.
But the ban could be extended in Clallam County if it doesn’t rain enough, Clallam County Fire District Chief Sam Phillips said Wednesday.
And it’s already been extended beyond Oct. 1 until further notice in Jefferson County, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue Chief Gordon Pomeroy said Wednesday.
“It’s all about the burnable fuels,” Pomeroy said.
The prescribed national forest burns will be conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and occur over the next four to six weeks depending on the weather, said Micah Johnson, an Olympic National Forest forest fire management officer.
One burn will be located 3 miles north of the national forest’s Klahowya Campground and the other about 7 miles east of where Sol Duc Road meets U.S. Highway 101 near the Hyas Creek.
Johnson said Olympic National Forest obtained a permit from the state Olympic Regional Clean Air Agency to burn up to 100 tons a day.
The fires will be allowed when fuel, moisture levels, wind, temperature, humidity and other environmental factors fall within specific parameters, according to the Forest Service.
“There will probably be residual smoke in the areas as the piles burn down,” Johnson said.
Once the ban is lifted, residents with vegetative piles of fuel can apply for a state Department of Natural Resources permit to burn the forest debris, Johnson said.
The Clallam County Fire Chiefs Association discussed the ban Tuesday that included DNR and Forest Service officials, said Sam Phillips, fire chief for Clallam County Fire District No. 2 and the association’s president.
“All of us attending (&there were lots) believe keeping the ban in place until Sept. 30, is prudent and that unless we get hotter/drier air between now and then, that opening up burning 10/01 is advised,” Phillips said in an email to Clallam County Building Official-Fire Marshall Annette Warren on Tuesday.
“The burn ban will remain in place until October 1st,” Warren responded Wednesday via email.
“Hopefully, the rain that is expected over the weekend will reduce our hazard further.”
Warren can extend the ban if fire conditions warrant, Phillips said Wednesday.
“The rain has got to be hard enough to fall under the tree canopy and get down to the ground beneath the trees,” he said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.