To prevent wildfires amidst a summer heat wave, a burn ban in unincorporated King County went into effect on Saturday, July 14. All outdoor burning is restricted save for bonfires in designated fire pits on campgrounds or on private property.
Recent arid conditions in the region and minimal expected rainfall in the near future led the King County fire marshal to issue the order. According to the National Weather Service, peak temperatures in the Seattle-area are expected to stay above 80 degrees Fahrenheit through next week (Sunday reached around 90 degrees), while little to no precipitation is expected. Pierce, Kitsap, Snohomish, and other counties along the Puget Sound have already enacted burn bans.
King County’s burn ban also requires that sanctioned fires be no larger than three feet in diameter, be attended at all times by individuals equipped with a fire extinguisher, remain 25 feet away from any structure, have 20 feet of vertical clearance from overhanging branches, and be 10 feet from any ground-level vegetation.
Summer wildfires—and the accompanying apocalyptic smokey hazes that shroud the region—are becoming routine in Washington state, and are affecting local air quality. Last year, there were roughly 10 wildfires across the state, costing the state $140 million to subdue. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, 75 percent of wildfires in Washington are caused by human behavior.
King County’s burn ban has no scheduled expiration date at this time.