King County issues Stage 1 Burn Ban with wildfire season approaching

Jun 1, 2023, 4:34 PM | Updated: Jun 5, 2023, 11:16 am

burn ban wildfire season...

Firefighters battle a structure fire at a residential subdivision. (Lance McMillan/Getty Images)

(Lance McMillan/Getty Images)

The King County Fire Chief’s Association, alongside the King County Fire Marshals Association and the King County Fire Marshal, implemented a Stage 1 burn ban for June 1 with the ban specifically relating to yard debris and residential burning.

The organizations initiating the burn ban encourage all residents to burn according to their local jurisdiction’s requirements to maintain a fire-safe environment. Fires that don’t violate the Stage-1 mandate include fires built in a metal or concrete fire pit, fires no larger than three feet in diameter, and fires 10 feet away from vegetation or 25 feet away from any structure with 20 feet of vertical clearance from overhanging branches.

SFD on pace to respond to more than 1,000 encampment fires in 2023

Recreational fires and gas/propane appliances — including grills, pellet smokers, and charcoal grills — are still permitted in the burn ban. Recreational fires must be attended by an alert individual and equipment capable of extinguishing the fire — a shovel and a 5-gallon bucket of water or a water hose.

Fires not currently allowed are ones used for debris disposal.

Multiple fire science agencies have already declared the state to already be in “wildfire season,” and the Department of Natural Resources claimed the wet winter and early spring helped grasslands grow taller, making the landscape more susceptible to larger fires.

“That moisture, those grey skies, those cooler temperatures really helped. But what we do know is that all that moisture allowed all of those grasses to grow,” Franz told KIRO Newsradio. “And now, they will quickly dry out with the hot temperatures.”

Officials are anticipating this year’s wildfire season to stretch on later into the year, possibly all the way into November.

On May 31, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) filed a proposal for permanent wildfire smoke rules to protect workers against harsher wildfire smoke pollution. In 2021, California adopted a full-time policy against wildfires, using an air quality index (AQI) of 151 or greater to initiate said protections. Oregon’s law, which kicked in the following year, has protection starting when the AQI reaches 101 or greater.

May brush fires a ‘bad omen’ for summer wildfire season, officials say

In the proposed Washington rules, according to ENR, Washington would trigger its protections at an AQI of 69 or higher. Employers would have to provide a wildfire smoke response plan for employees while safety training and additional emergency response measures would be launched. At an AQI of 101 or higher, respiratory protection must be provided. At an AQI of 301 or higher, worksites must have a space with clean air for workers experiencing smoke symptoms to relocate to if needed. At an AQI of 500 or higher, workers must wear an N95 mask.

State officials have burned approximately 2,000 acres to prevent more severe wildfires later this year through multiple controlled burns, beginning in April, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

“Prescribed fire is one of the most important tools we have to restore the health of our forests,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “Prescribed fire is one of the most cost-effective ways for us to remove excess fuels and create defensible space for wildland firefighters as they fight to protect our homes and communities each summer.”

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King County issues Stage 1 Burn Ban with wildfire season approaching