Washington leaders ask for help preventing wildfires over Labor Day weekend

Generic Wildfire

OLYMPIA, Wash.– The unofficial end of summer is here: Labor Day weekend. That has many people heading out for one last trip before they settle back into their school year routines.

If you plan to camp out or spend some time outside, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources asks you to do what you can to prevent wildfires.

Last year, fires that started on Labor Day weekend accounted for more than 70 percent of all acres burned in 2020. The fires devastated the town of Malden and burned 283 homes. The fires also burned more than 600,000 acres across the state.

“This is not the time to let our guard down,” Commissioner Franz said. “Last year, only 93,000 acres had burned by the end of August. What happened next showed us how fast things can change – the Labor Day weekend firestorm burned more than 500,000 acres in less than 36 hours. I’m asking the public to help prevent a repeat of last year’s tragedy by avoiding starting outdoor fires.”

Already in 2021, Washington has seen a record number of wildfires. There have been more than 1,716 fires around the state.

Here are tips on preventing wildfires:

  • Avoid starting outdoor fires
  • Don’t park vehicles on grassy areas
  • Make sure dirt bikes and ATVs have operating spark arrestors
  • Create defensible space around your home
  • Reduce dry fuels around your home
  • Clean roof tops and gutters
  • Limb up your trees and remove dead branches
  • Pay attention to and abide by burn ban restrictions

This year’s fire season started months earlier than usual because of the historic drought conditions. That has left firefighters worn out and thinned out resources.

Fire danger east of the Cascades remains very high to extreme in most areas. Unfavorable wind conditions can rapidly turn even the smallest fire into a large one.

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