Investigators: Seven of 10 summer fires have same cause

by: Deborah Horne Updated:


Fire investigators are on high alert, concerned that our hot, dry weather has made conditions ripe for starting fires.

The concern is on both the 'dry' and 'wet' sides of the mountain, says Sarah Foster, spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

"We have fires all over the state," Foster said. "The bigger ones are in Eastern Washington. But we definitely have fires in Western Washington."

Last May, unseasonable, hot temperatures helped fuel wildland fires in Thurston and Lewis Counties. With the hot, dry season now upon us, state and local officials are sending out the fire alarm.

"Seven out of 10 fires that we have in Washington are human-caused," Foster said.

This time of year, those fires are likely to start because of Fourth of July fireworks. That is a particular issue on the Eastside. Fireworks are still legal in unincorporated King County but not in nearby cities. But fires started here can easily spread.

"Duvall, Woodinville, definitely Carnation, North Bend, Issaquah," said Eastside Fire spokeswoman Josie Williams. "We have a lot of area that is still open space. Certainly if you were to have a brush fire, homes are very close."

And with the drying grasses, she added, "those fuels are ready to burn."

Fireworks aren't the only culprit, said the DNR's Foster.

"Off-road vehicles in long grass. Parking a car with a hot exhaust over grass. Campfires that aren't properly attended to."

On July 1, the state issued a burn ban on all forested lands. That means campfires in only approved pits are allowed. Fireworks are banned there.