Bans apply to public, private lands
With fire risk called “extreme,” campfires are not allowed on any land around the Methow Valley, whether it’s managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the state of Washington, or Okanogan County.
The Forest Service, which operates developed and dispersed campsites around the valley — including in the Chewuch drainage, Twisp River, and Lost River — has banned all campfires, even in fire rings in campgrounds, and in the wilderness. The ban includes charcoal barbecues. Only camp stoves that use pressurized liquid fuel are allowed, but only in areas cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable material within a 3-foot radius.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is in what’s called Stage 2 restrictions. If conditions worsen, there is no Stage 3 — instead, the Forest Service closes the national forest to the public because fire danger is so high.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has declared fire danger extreme in the Methow Valley, Okanogan County, and virtually all of Washington east of the Cascade crest.
Charcoal and wood fires are not allowed at Pearrygin Lake State Park or Alta Lake State Park. Gas and propane self-contained camping stoves are permitted.
No campfires are allowed at DNR campgrounds in the Loup Loup and Loomis state forests. DNR has also prohibited the burning of vegetation and is not issuing permits for debris burning.
There is a long-standing ban on all outdoor burning on private and Okanogan County property. Under the ban, charcoal barbecue grills and all outdoor burning are prohibited.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has banned target shooting statewide because of the fire risk.
Campfires are not the only fire risks. Smoking should be done only in a vehicle or developed recreation area, away from flammable materials. Vehicles can ignite a fire, by driving on dry vegetation or dragging a chain, which can throw sparks. Even tools like weed whackers and lawnmowers can create a spark if they hit a rock.
The Palmer Fire, near Loomis and Oroville in northern Okanogan County, which grew to about 18,000 acres, was 91% contained as of Aug. 30. Some road closures and mandatory evacuations are still in effect. The fire started on Aug. 18 and burned or damaged a few dozen structures. The cause is under investigation.