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Inslee declares wildfire state of emergency, burn ban

A wildfire burns next to power lines near Othello, Wash., early Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press file
A wildfire burns next to power lines near Othello, Wash., early Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday declared a state of emergency throughout Washington relating to the growing risk of wildfires, including a statewide prohibition on most outdoor and agricultural burning through Sept. 30.

“We don’t want a repeat of recent years with dangerous wildfires across the state that have destroyed towns, killed livestock and resulted in weeks of unhealthy air quality," Inslee said in a new release, adding that the state is facing a historic drought and has already seen a deadly record-breaking heat wave. "We must be vigilant in our efforts to prevent wildfires and the loss of life and destruction of land and property that comes with them.”

Prohibited outdoor burning includes campfires, bonfires, residential yard debris clean-up, trash disposal, land clearing, weed abatement, and agricultural burning activity, according to the proclamation.

The order includes exceptions for the use of gas-fueled stoves and the use of charcoal grills at private residences. But both activities must be done at least 5 feet from flammable vegetation and over a non-flammable surface.

Additionally, campfires at state, county and municipal parks and campgrounds, as well as small, recreational campfires in contained structures on a person’s private property are allowed, according to the proclamation. Agricultural burning is allowed if a fire permit has been issued by a local authority.

All of these activities must be done in accordance with current and ongoing restrictions, and nothing in the order supersedes more restrictive provisions by a lawful authority, like city or county governments, Inslee's office said.

The proclamation also activates the Washington National Guard to help in wildfire suppression efforts.

The state has seen a record-breaking number of fires for this early in the summer, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said in the news release.

“I’m asking everyone to do their part to and take precautions to prevent wildfires," Franz said. "Our firefighters on the frontlines depend on us to help keep them safe.”

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