Two arrests for starting fires in dry grass as wildfires continue statewide

Sep 10, 2020, 1:52 PM

Puyallup resident arrested after being caught setting fires in the median on SR-167 at Meridian. (P...

Puyallup resident arrested after being caught setting fires in the median on SR-167 at Meridian. (Photo courtesy of Trooper Ryan Burke on Twitter)

(Photo courtesy of Trooper Ryan Burke on Twitter)

As Washington is continuing to battle fires statewide during dangerous conditions, some people have been making it worse by starting fires in dry grass. Two people have been arrested so far for these acts, according to Trooper Ryan Burke.

Burke is the Washington State Patrol District 1 Public Information Officer for Pierce and Thurston counties. He tweeted Wednesday that a 36-year-old Puyallup resident was caught in the median on State Route 167 at Meridian for setting a fire. He is now in jail.

On Thursday, another pedestrian was spotted lighting a match in the grass at State Route 512 and State Route 7. The incident was observed by a citizen who called 911. After a short foot chase, Burke said, the person is in custody and on his way to jail.

As the dangerous fire conditions continue with low humidity, high temperatures, and strong winds, officials have asked all Washington residents to be extra cautious.

Hilary Franz, state Commissioner of Public Lands, said Tuesday that everyone can do their part to prevent any more starts of fires and help the men and women putting their lives on the line and the communities whose homes are at risk. Since there was no lightning, it is believed that all fires were human caused in some way, so residents should comply with burn bans and avoid anything that could cause sparks.

“The forecast ahead is challenging,” Franz said, adding that the hot weather is expected to stick around.

There is currently a statewide burn ban on all forestland under the state Department of Natural Resources’ protection, including no outdoor burning, use of charcoal briquettes, or prescribed burns. Additionally, many counties have bans on outdoor burning. Check with local authorities before you burn anything.

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