Public Lands Commissioner says don't 'add to a dangerous situati - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Public Lands Commissioner says don't 'add to a dangerous situation'

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Peter Goldmark with DNR urges extreme caution when it comes to fireworks. Peter Goldmark with DNR urges extreme caution when it comes to fireworks.
OLYMPIA, Wash. -

With several wildfires burning around Washington Saturday, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark is asking residents to not light personal fireworks and immediately stop any activity that may spark additional wildfires, as fire crews are stretched thin.

“Whether it’s fireworks, cigarettes or anything that sparks a fire, it’s absolutely essential that people not add to a dangerous situation,” said Goldmark in a release.  “Our hot weather and strong winds have created conditions that make any fire extremely dangerous and expensive to suppress.”

Goldmark also leads the Department of Natural Resources in Washington. DNR firefighters are currently fighting the Rail Canyon Fire in Springdale, as well as the Williams Lake fire just north of Colville and the 21 Mile Grade fire in Ferry County, in addition to smaller fires.

With state resources already committed, DNR has hired additional private contractors and is scouring the western states and Canada for additional crews who can fight fires in these especially tough conditions.

“Because fire season has started so early everywhere in the West, the large air tankers we share with other agencies are in high demand,” said Goldmark.  “We have two Washington National Guard Blackhawk helicopters, our DNR helicopters and qualified contract fire bosses also working full-out.  I fear the consequences if we see more wildfires break out [Saturday] afternoon and evening.”

All outdoor fires, including campfires and fireworks, are banned on DNR-protected lands.  The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has banned all campfires at state parks and on the ocean beaches Seashore Conservation Area.  The burn ban will be valid until September 30. 

Over recent years, the state wildfire season has begun earlier and with greater intensity. DNR fire and forest health experts believe some of the uptick in the number of earlier fires is due to years of persistent drought on the east side of the Cascades, which have weakened forests and made them more susceptible to insects and disease.

According to the DNR, more than 1 million acres of Washington's landscape has been consumed by wildfire since 2009.

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