The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has already responded to nearly 500 wildfire starts this year. This is an unprecedented increase over previous years.
According to DNR this is because of people cleaning their yards during the pandemic. It’s important to note that burning outdoors is not an option in most areas of Spokane County, with the exception of recreational fires.
The fires DNR has responded to have been in every corner of the state. The 468 wildfires of varying sizes is nearly double the average number of fires for the same time over the previous 10 years. Of the 468 wildfires, nearly two-thirds have burned east of the Cascades.
“Everybody is following the “stay home, stay safe” order. They’re getting more time at home to do yard work. We’re seeing an unprecedented number of debris piles, and we’re seeing an unprecedented number of people that are lighting those piles on fire,” Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said.
As weather conditions become hot and dry, outdoor burning becomes more likely to start a fire. Because of this, DNR has instituted additional burn bans in Washington.
More on outdoor burning in Spokane County can be found here.
More from Northwest Public Broadcasting on wildfire starts can be found here.