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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

August 30, 2011 at 8:08 AM

Fire ban in effect so be careful in the woods during the holiday weekend

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging campers, recreationists, woods workers, and other forest visitors to be especially careful with fire during the upcoming extended Labor Day weekend and through the next month.

DNR has a burn ban in place until Sept. 30 for all 12.7 million acres of public and private lands it protects from wildfire. During the ban, campfires may be allowed, but only in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds. Campers are not allowed to build their own fire pits.

DNR suggests always checking to see if there are additional local restrictions on campfires before leaving home to go camping or hiking. Because campgrounds may choose to ban campfires, it’s best to check with the campground host before lighting a campfire.

In areas where campfires are allowed, DNR asks the public to please follow these suggestions:

Use an existing fire ring; don’t create a new one.

Clear all vegetation away from the fire ring (remove all flammable materials, such as needles, leaves, sticks, etc.).

Keep your campfire small.

Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.

Never leave a campfire unattended.

When putting out your campfire, you should:

First, drown the campfire with water.

Next, mix the ashes and embers with soil. Scrape all partially-burned sticks and logs to make sure all the hot embers are off of them.

Stir the embers after they are covered with water and make sure everything is wet.

Feel the coals, embers, and any partially-burned wood with your hands. Everything should be cool to the touch.

When you think you are done, take an extra minute and add more water. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again.

If you don’t have water, use moist dirt. Be careful not to bury any hot or burning material, as it can smolder and later start a wildfire.

Finally, check the entire campsite for possible sparks or embers; it only takes one to start a forest fire.

If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

Remember, a little extra care takes only a few minutes of your time, and it could prevent a wildfire.

For daily updates on burn restrictions, call 800-323-BURN or visit the DNR web site showing fire danger and burning restrictions by county.

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