With this week’s hot, dry weather, Clark County is banning all burning for debris disposal and land clearing, effective Monday.
Clark County typically bans outdoor burning from July 15 through Sept. 30 but makes adjustments based on actual conditions.
County Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway announced Friday that he is canceling all burning permits. Permits can be reissued or extended when the burn ban is lifted.
Outdoor burning already is prohibited within city limits and urban growth areas, including Hazel Dell, Felida, Orchards and Salmon Creek.
The burn ban taking effect Monday does not apply to federally managed lands.
Fire marshals in Clark and adjacent counties have been in regular communication with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service for several weeks regarding weather patterns and fuel conditions.
“Due to the low moisture content in the wildfire fuels, coupled with the extended forecast calling for normal to above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation, we are in agreement that the ban should be implemented earlier this year,” Dunaway said in a statement.
Clark County said the Department of Natural Resources will change its wildfire danger rating to “moderate” in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties, which will prohibit debris burning on state-protected lands. Permits that have been issued are suspended until fire danger subsides in the fall.
Recreational fires are still allowed in designated fire pits in state and county parks.
On private land, recreational fires can be built only in fire pits lined with metal, stone or masonry or purchased from home and garden stores. Fires cannot be larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high.
Recreational fires must be at least 25 feet from homes, other structures and combustible material and have at least 20 feet of overhead clearance from tree limbs, patio covers, carports and other flammable material.
Portable outdoor fireplaces, also known as patio fireplaces, should not be used within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material and must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Recreational fires must be attended at all times by a responsible person, at least 16 years old, who has the ability and tools to extinguish the fire, namely a shovel and at least 5 gallons of water or a connected and working hose.
Fires should be extinguished by soaking with water or smothering with damp soil. Stir the fire pit with a shovel until all areas are cool to the touch.
The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office says self-contained camp stoves are a safe and easy alternative to campfires for cooking.
Summer doesn’t officially begin until Friday, but the Fire Marshal’s Office is recommending homeowners take the following steps in both rural and urban areas:
• Remove fuel within 3 to 5 feet of foundations, outbuildings, garages and sheds and within 10 feet of houses, as well under decks and porches and from gutters, eaves, porches and decks.
• Cut lawns that have turned brown and dispose of debris and cuttings.
• Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet above the ground.
• Landscape with native and flame-resistant plants.
More tips are available on the National Fire Protection Association’s website, nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Wildfire/Preparing-homes-for-wildfire.