Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in response to the “growing risk” of wildfires in the region and has banned most outdoor and agricultural burning in Washington until the end of September.
The order comes as the state continues to face high temperatures, dry conditions, drought and fire dangers — environmental concerns exacerbated by an extreme heat wave at the end of June, according to the emergency proclamation.
“Washington is facing a historic drought and we have already experienced record-breaking heat,” Inslee said in a statement. “We must be vigilant in our efforts to prevent wildfires, and the loss of life and destruction of land and property that comes with them.”
The order includes a ban on most campfires, bonfires, residential yard-debris cleanup, trash disposal, land clearing, weed abatement and agricultural burning, according to the proclamation. It will remain in effect until Sept. 30, but it can be extended or curtailed early, depending on conditions.
There are some exceptions: use of liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves over a nonflammable surface and at least 5 feet away from flammable vegetation; charcoal grills at private residences; campfires at local and state parks and campgrounds; and agricultural burning with a permit, among other situations.
The order also includes some ban exceptions that cities and counties have already granted, though Inslee advised residents to follow the “more restrictive provisions” their local governments have imposed.
King County officials announced a burn ban last month, which prohibits all outdoor fires except barbecues and small recreational fires in established fire pits. Seattle and most King County cities have also banned fireworks in an effort to eliminate fire risks.
The state has already counted a “record-breaking number” of fires for this early in the summer, Washington Commission of Public Lands Hilary Franz said in the statement.
“Extreme drought conditions leave communities across our state at risk as fire danger continues to climb,” Franz said. “I’m asking everyone to do their part and take precautions to prevent wildfires.”
The proclamation also activated the Washington National Guard to help battle wildfires, Inslee said.
“We don’t want a repeat of recent years with dangerous wildfires across the state that have destroyed towns, killed livestock and resulted in weeks of unhealthy air quality,” Inslee said in the statement. “I urge everyone to do their part to help protect our beautiful state and all our communities.”