omak fire

Fire crews respond to a brush fire Thursday, July 2, off Jaquish Road near Omak.

OKANOGAN — A burn ban, which was effective July 3, has been ordered by the Okanogan County commissioners.

It will remain in effect until rescinded by commissioners.

The ban joins fire restrictions imposed by other agencies for state, federal and tribal lands.

“This burn ban is county-wide, affecting all private and county properties in the unincorporated areas of the county,” and includes lands protected by the state Department of Natural Resources, said commissioners.

“Because hazardous fire conditions exist in Okanogan County, there is established a burn ban on all outdoor burning of combustible materials in the county,” said the announcement.

Combustible materials may include outdoor burning of yard waste, non-emergent agricultural burning, charcoal barbecues, exploding gun targets and bullet tracer rounds. Use of gas-fired barbecues and propane fire pits is allowed.

The burn ban does not apply to silvicultural burning on lands regulated solely by DNR’s outdoor burning rules and regulations, U.S. Forest Service-protected lands, the Colville Indian Reservation and incorporated cities and towns.

Most cities and towns, including Omak and Okanogan, also have burn bans in place. County officials advise people to check with individual city/town halls.

Other agencies’ burn restrictions:

• A burn ban has been in place on the Colville Indian Reservations since late March.

• As of July 3, DNR and cooperating agencies banned small debris disposal fires (“rule burning”) in the Chelan, Foothills, Highlands, Lower Basin, Lower Yakima, Methow, Upper Basin, Upper Yakima and Valley fire danger rating areas.

No burning is allowed in the same areas. Written burn permits issued by DNR are suspended.

Fire danger increased from moderate to high in the Chelan, Lower Yakima and Upper Yakima fire danger rating areas. It remains low in the Kaniksu area, moderate in the Foothills, Highlands and Upper Basin areas, and high in the Lower Basin, Methow and Valley areas.

Fireworks and incendiary devices are illegal on DNR-protected lands.

Campfires may be allowed in designated campgrounds. People are asked to check with local campground hosts before lighting a campfire.

• As of July 1, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted campfires and other burning activities on its eastern Washington lands.

The threat of wildfires and smoke is greater this year because of compromised health of those with COVID-19, said Cynthia Wilkerson, lands division manager. The ongoing pandemic also puts firefighters at a greater risk to respond.

A temporary restriction on firearm use also began July 1 on department-managed lands in eastern Washington. Target shooting and other gun use will be prohibited, but discharge of a firearm for legal hunting will be permitted.

Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, are prohibited. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.

Smoking is restricted to enclosed vehicles.

Also prohibited are welding and chainsaw operations, including use of acetylene torches or other open flames, and operating vehicles away from developed roads.

Fireworks are prohibited.

• Wood and charcoal campfires are still allowed in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest areas that normally are open to campfires.

Year-round restrictions apply to wilderness areas.

Fireworks are prohibited.

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