The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning in western Washington, including Hurricane Ridge, due to warm, dry and windy conditions this week that could create extreme fire danger.
The warning prompted Jefferson County to implement a full ban on outdoor burning to include campfires and charcoal-burning barbecues.
Effective Monday, all outdoor burning, including recreational fires, fire pits and the use of charcoal briquettes, was banned in the county. That includes outdoor barbecues such as Webers that use briquettes. Propane barbecues are still allowed.
The decision was made on the recommendation of the Jefferson County Board of Fire Chiefs and Jefferson County Fire Marshal Brian Tracer.
Tracer said Monday there already had been five small brush fires in the county during the day with the dry conditions.
“The potential is just insane,” he said. “We’re asking people to be responsible and not have any fires for the next week.”
One of those brush fires Monday morning measured 30 feet by 30 feet along Aldrich Road near Discovery Bay Golf Course. East Jefferson Fire Rescue put it out with help from an engine from Naval Magazine Indian Island.
Another fire in a small tree Sunday afternoon at Kai Tai Lagoon also was extinguished by firefighters from East Jefferson Fire Rescue.
“As of Sept. 7, weather reports are predicting above average temperatures, low relative humidity, lack of precipitation and strong winds,” stated a release from Jefferson County. “This accompanied with the ground level fuels, which have grown all summer and are now tinder dry, creates a high danger for sustained fire. In a safe, proactive and responsible approach to the current weather conditions, all burning within Jefferson County is banned until further notice.”
Violating the burn ban is a misdemeanor civil infraction with fines of $500 to $1,500. If a brush fire is started by a person burning, that could result in more serious charges such as reckless endangerment or reckless burning, Tracer said.
Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron said the county implemented a burn ban on July 1 and it is in effect until Oct. 1, but it isn’t as strict as Jefferson’s as it does allow some “recreational cooking fires” in campgrounds and on private property.
Temperatures are forecast to be in the upper-80s in parts of the Olympic Peninsula this week, and strong winds are another reason the National Weather Service issued the red flag warning for the Olympic Mountains.
Winds are forecast to gust up to 24 miles per hour today with 70-degree temperatures in Port Angeles. Gusts of up to 30 mph were forecast for Labor Day in the Hood Canal region, with temperatures in the upper 80s forecast later this week around Brinnon.
Forks was forecast to have gusts up t0 20 mph today with temperatures hitting 86 by Thursday.
Several major fires sparked up this weekend throughout the Pacific Northwest as the region is seeing exceptionally dry conditions. A red flag warning was issued Monday and into Tuesday, with gusts hitting 75 mph in some areas of central Washington and Oregon.
“The fire weather forecasted is extremely rare and occurs only a few times a century,” said Eric Johnson, Deputy Fire Staff for Northwest Oregon Fire Management.
The biggest fire in Washington is the Evans Canyon Fire northwest of Yakima. It had burned 75,000 acres by Monday and had more than 1,000 firefighters working to contain it.
A separate 67,000-acre blaze south of Omak started Sunday.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached by email at [email protected].