Editorial

Pay attention to wildfire State of Emergency | Editorial

It’s been an epic start to the summer.

Historically high temperatures.

Nary a cloud or raindrop in the sky.

Groups gathering together for live music, parades and socializing.

Let’s carry that positive note through to the fall by doing all you can to prevent a wildfire.

On July 6, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide state of emergency due to the growing risk of fire and issued a statewide prohibition on most outdoor and agricultural burning through Sept. 30, 2021.

“People ask all the time how they can help firefighters. One of the biggest ways is to help prevent the start of fires,” said Alex Robinson, Director of Fire, Fuels and Aviation for the Pacific Northwest Region and Alaska, in a U.S. Forest Service public announcement.

Inslee’s proclamation also activates the Washington National Guard to assist in wildfire suppression efforts.

“Washington is facing a historic drought and we have already experienced record-breaking heat. 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,” 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. I urge everyone to do their part to help protect our beautiful state and all our communities.”

Read the full proclamation at https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/proclamations/proc_21-10.pdf.

Fire safety reminders

• Personal fireworks are banned in San Juan County.

• Explosives and pyrotechnic devices, including fireworks and explosive targets, are prohibited on National Forests in Oregon and Washington at all times. Violators who bring fireworks onto national forests and grasslands can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced with up to six months in jail. Anyone who starts a wildfire can be held liable by the government for suppression costs and may be subject to civil liability for private property damage.

• Fire knows no boundaries – so it’s important for community members and forest visitors to respect burn bans and other safety-related fire and public use restrictions.

• Have a plan to dispose of burned coals from a grill safely. Hot embers and charcoal can smolder for days then reemerge as flames long after you’ve left.

• Make sure your vehicle is in good repair before traveling. Hot weather can lead to tire blowouts and riding on rims creates sparks. If towing a camper, boat or trailer, ensure tow chains are elevated to prevent dragging across rocks or pavement — which can also create sparks. Avoid driving or parking over dry brush or grass; your vehicle’s undercarriage gets very hot and could ignite a fire.

• Do not park vehicles in dry, grassy areas as residual heat from exhaust systems can ignite the dry grass.

• Motorized equipment, including ATVs, and motorbikes and chainsaws, should be recently serviced and have working spark arrestors.

• Lawnmower blades can create sparks if they strike rocks. Make sure you clear your yard of debris before mowing. During extremely dry weather, limit use of mowers, tractors and chainsaws to the coolest hours of the day, and switch to lower-risk activities like pulling weeds and removing brush by hand and using a string-based trimmer instead of metal to cut back tall grass.

• Do not set a hot tool down on dry grass or leaves.

If you are a vacation rental owner or are hosting family and friends, please educate your guests about fire prevention. There are posters and more tips available at https://www.dnr.wa.gov/WildfirePrevention.

As a resident, keep yourself and your beloved island safe from the devastation of a wildfire.