Firefighters

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz met with General Dan Dent of the Washington Army National Guard and State Forester George Geissler in June to discuss mitigating the spread of COVID-19 while fighting the spread of wildfires in our region as roughly 80 guard members met for their first field training of the year near Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz signed an order Monday enacting a statewide burn ban on all forestland under the Washington State Department of Natural Resources fire protection — 12 million acres of public and private land. 

The order took effect today and is valid through Sept. 30, unless fire conditions improve.

The burn ban was prompted by prolonged hot, dry weather conditions across the state along with gusty winds that can spread a wildfire quickly through the now-dry grasses and forests, according to a press release from the DNR. 

“We simply cannot take any chances right now with wildfire potential so great,” Franz said. “Recent hot weather has set the stage for fires to start easily and grow quickly – any spark can set off a megafire. I ask that we all do our part to prevent wildfires and keep our communities safe by abiding by this burn ban and being extremely cautious when it comes to activities that could start a fire.”

 Currently, there are four large fires burning in Washington including the Colockum Fire near Wenatchee, the Anglin Fire east of Tonasket, the Greenhouse Fire near Nespelem and the Green Fire near Synarep.

George Geissler, deputy for DNR’s wildfire division and state forester said firefighting resources are stretched thin after the weekend of hot temperatures and wildfire starts in eastern Washington.

“We are entering a critical period for our firefighters with temperatures rising and rapidly drying fuels on the ground,” said Geissler. “We’ll continue to respond with our air and ground assets as needed, but we hope the public will take the burn ban seriously. Not only are we putting firefighters in danger with each wildfire, but we are also risking their exposure to COVID-19 with smoky conditions and a close working environment. We want and need healthy first responders for the duration of the wildfire season.”

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