Labor Day weekend may be considered the end of summer, but it isn’t the end of the wildfire season.
As people plan their activities for this weekend, land managers are reminding them to be extra-careful because of highly flammable, tinder-dry vegetation.
Weather forecasts for Labor Day weekend – with temperatures predicted to be in the 90s – continue the trend of a summer that’s been hotter and drier than usual. The Methow Valley has had no measurable rainfall for more than 100 days.
“We’re not seeing any relief from the hot, dry summer we’ve had anytime soon, creating conditions that could lead to explosive wildfire growth,” said Hilary Franz, Washington’s commissioner of public lands.
The Diamond Creek Fire in the national forest north of Mazama has burned almost 50,000 acres, with one-third of that growth occurring just this past week. While the exact cause of the fire has not been determined, investigators know it was human caused. The number of human-caused fires is particularly high this year, at 89 percent.
Campfires and barbecue grills are banned everywhere – in all campgrounds, at Pearrygin Lake and Alta Lake state parks, and in the national forest and backcountry. Only pressurized liquid-gas stoves can be used.
Cutting firewood for personal or commercial use with a power saw is also prohibited until conditions change.
People are reminded not to drive on dry grass or vegetation, since heat from a vehicle can ignite a fire. Keep tires properly inflated and be sure chains and other metal parts don’t drag from a vehicle or trailer, because rims and chains can throw sparks.
Be careful when smoking and don’t discard cigarette butts on the ground or near combustible materials.