Burning of vegetation, yard waste and fields will be prohibited in Okanogan County starting next week. The burn restrictions run from June 15 through Oct. 15.
Recreational fires (fires conducted for pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, cooking or warmth) will still be allowed. They must be contained in a concrete, rock or steel ring. Flames cannot exceed 2 feet and the fire must be attended at all times.
The concrete, rock or steel ring for a recreational fire must be at least 8 inches high and no more than 3 feet in diameter. The fire cannot be within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material.
As the weather warms and vegetation dries out and fire risk increases, the county will impose a complete ban on all outdoor burning, including recreational fires, according to the announcement issued last week by Okanogan County Emergency Management.
The restrictions cover all private property in unincorporated parts of the county, including lands protected by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They also apply to all county-owned property.
The county’s Fire Advisory Committee, which consists of the fire chiefs of all fire districts in the county, the county’s emergency manager, the county sheriff, and DNR, meets to evaluate fire risk and makes recommendations to the Okanogan County commissioners.
The restrictions applies to all county property. Some cities impose their own burning restrictions, and the U.S. Forest Service and DNR regulate burning at recreation sites and campgrounds they manage. DNR restrictions also apply to private parcels that pay a DNR fire tax assessment, which can be verified on property tax statements.
Fireworks are illegal in all unincorporated areas of the county. Burning of garbage is always illegal.
Orchardists who need to control fire blight by burning trees must obtain a permit from the Tri-County Pest Control Office at (509) 667-6827 or (509) 393-0975. They must also call the Okanogan County sheriff before burning and continuously monitor the fire with sufficient water and tools.
National forest, state lands, towns
Campfires are currently permitted in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. They are also permitted in designated fire pits and grills at Pearrygin Lake and Alta Lake state parks.
Fire danger in DNR’s Methow and Valley fire danger rating areas is “low.” Campfires are not allowed at dispersed campsites at the Loup Loup and Loomis state forests.
The town of Twisp follows the county’s restrictions, so burning of vegetation and yard waste is banned within town limits as of June 15. People can have a recreational fire in a fire ring that meets the county requirements.
The town of Winthrop doesn’t allow any outdoor burning without a permit from May 1 through Oct. 14. Anyone wanting to have a recreational fire or to burn vegetation in Winthrop must obtain a permit from Okanogan County Fire District 6.
People can check the most up-to-date fire restrictions on the Okanogan County Emergency Management website at https://www.okanogancounty.org/government/emergency_management.