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Fire danger very high in forested areas limited in eastern Washington

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced that, in response to increased fire danger, the Industrial Fire Precaution Levels for logging and industrial operations in forested areas will be raised to minimize the danger of accidental fires.

Effective August 26, at 12:01 a.m., the IFPL level will be changed to Level 2, known as Partial Hoot Owl, limiting most forest industrial activities to between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. only in:

• Shutdown Zone 680, which covers the eastern slopes of the Cascades in Chelan, Kittitas, Yakima, and a small portion of Klickitat Counties.

 

The following areas will remain at Level 2:

• Shutdown Zone 675, 609E, and 609W.  Zone 675 is the lower elevations of Chelan, Kittitas, and Yakima counties; Zone 609W is primarily western Klickitat County with some forested land in southwest Yakima County, and Zone 609 E is in central Klickitat County.

 

The IFPL for Zones 609E and 609W will be re-evaluated on Saturday and, if the precipitation currently in the forecast does not occur, they may be raised to a Level 3.

 

In a Level 2, cable yarding, blasting, welding, and using chainsaws in the woods can only be done between 8:00 pm and 1:00 pm. Those operations must cease in the heat of the day from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Chainsaws may continue to be used at loading sites. All operations in forested areas must have required fire tools on site, and someone must watch the working area for an hour after the equipment shuts down to ensure no fire has started.

 

Even people cutting firewood must follow these standard fire precautions during IFPL 2:

  • Chainsaws must have approved, working exhaust systems
  • A one-hour fire watch must follow the last use of a chainsaw
  • A fire extinguisher, containing at least eight ounces of retardant, must be in the immediate vicinity of where the chainsaw is being used
  • A shovel must be retrievable in two minutes or less

The IFPL system

Industrial Fire Precaution Levels apply to all industrial operations that might cause a fire on or adjacent to lands protected from fire by DNR (WAC 332-24-301); this applies to logging and other industrial operations.

 

The levels are established for each of 38 “shutdown zones” in the state on the basis of National Fire Danger Rating System data. There are four IFPL levels:

• Level 1 (closed fire season):  fire equipment and a fire watch are required

• Level 2 (partial hoot owl):  limits certain activities to between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m.; fire equipment and a fire watch are required

• Level 3 (partial shutdown):  prohibits some activities and limits others to between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m.; fire equipment and a fire watch are required

• Level 4 (general shutdown):  prohibits all activities

The same system is used by DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management, and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. This provides consistency for workers operating on lands regulated by the various agencies. For specific information regarding components of the IFPL system, please visit DNR’s website.

Daily updates on burn restrictions are available at 1-800-323-BURN or on DNR’s website at www.dnr.wa.gov; click on ‘fire information and prevention’ and go to ‘wildfire related maps.’ The ‘burn risk map’ link is in the bottom, right-hand corner.

Currently, there is a statewide burn ban on 13 million acres of forestlands in Washington. Campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place. Campers should check with their campground host or the local fire district before starting a campfire.

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