Outdoor burn ban relaxed west of Cascades

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Rainfall and cooler temperatures mean state Department of Natural Resources officials can relax a statewide burn ban. Outdoor burning is now allowed on DNR-protected land west of the Cascade Mountains.

"This was a good time (to relax the burn ban)," said Janet Pearce with the DNR. "We heard people wanting their campfires west of the Cascades."

The adjustment also means campfires are allowed again at state parks west of the mountains.

East of the Cascades, the outdoor burn ban remains firmly in place in state parks, and on land under DNR protection, including thousands of acres of private property.

"We're still in a world of hurt. We're still getting thunderstorms and lightning, so we're going to keep that burn ban strict on the east side of the Cascades," Pearce said.

Despite the relaxed ban, Pearce urges careful management of outdoor fires.

"People can have their campfires, but we don't want them to get ridiculous about it and have big bonfires," Pierce said. "That spark can still travel in wet weather."

Cooler, wetter weather has been a boon to wildfire fighters, during a season that has seen more than 350,000 acres scorches statewide. The rain also brings some unique hassles.

"The rain slowed down the fire behavior, but it challenged our firefighters getting their footing on steep terrain, because it's muddy and they're sliding," Pearce said.

The burn ban east of the Cascades continues through Sept. 30 on DNR-protected lands. That includes cooking with charcoal briquettes.