Outdoor burn ban goes into effect July 1

Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania counties will impose bans for lands in their jurisdictions

VANCOUVER — Effective Sun., July 1, all land clearing and residential burning in Clark County will be restricted due to increased fire danger. Cowlitz and Skamania counties also will impose bans for lands in their jurisdictions.

Clark County Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway is canceling all burning permits issued in Clark County for this year. Permits can be reissued or extended when the ban is lifted. The burning restrictions do not apply to federally managed lands.

Clark County typically bans outdoor burning from July 15 through Sept. 30 each year. However, a ban can begin sooner or end later depending on conditions.

“After talking with the county’s Fire Chiefs and looking at the current conditions as well as the extended forecast, we are all in agreement that the ban should be implemented earlier this year,” said Dunaway.

At the same time, the Pacific Cascade Region of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, DNR, will impose restrictions on both permitted and rule burning on DNR protected lands within these three counties. Permits that have been issued are suspended until the fire danger subsides in the fall. The fire danger in the three counties will be set to moderate, which prohibits rule burning. In effect, all debris burning is prohibited on DNR protected lands and fire district protected lands in the three counties until further notice.

Creating a defensible space around homes is important to prevent a grass or brush fire from reaching your home. Dunaway recommends these actions in both rural and urban areas:

  • Remove fuel: within 3-5 feet of foundations, outbuildings, garages and sheds; within 10 feet of your house; under decks and porches; from gutters, eaves, porches and decks
  • Cut your lawn if it is brown. Dispose of debris and cuttings.
  • Prune trees so lowest branches are 6-10 feet above the ground.
  • Landscape with native and flame-resistant plants.

Recreational campfires are still allowed if built in improved fire pits in designated campgrounds, such as commercial campgrounds and local, county and state parks. On private land, recreational fires are permitted when built according to the following regulations:

  • Recreational fires must be in metal-, stone- or masonry-lined fire pits in improved campgrounds or purchased from home and garden stores.
  • Size may not exceed 3 feet in diameter by 2 feet in height.
  • Fires must be at least 25 feet from a structure or other combustible material and have at least 20 feet of clearance from overhead fuels such as tree limbs, patio covers or carports.
  • Fires must be attended at all times by a responsible person at least 16 years old with the ability and tools to extinguish the fire. Tools include a shovel and either five gallons of water or a water hose connected and working.
  • Portable outdoor fireplaces, also known as patio fireplaces, should not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material. They must always be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Completely extinguish recreational fires by covering them with water or moist soil and stirring with a shovel until all parts are cool to the touch.

Self-contained camp stoves are a safe and easy alternative to campfires for cooking.

For more information, please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at (360) 397-2186 or visit the county’s website at www.clark.wa.gov/development/fire/burning.html.

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