Restrictions tightened on federal lands
OMAK — Fire season is still in town, with back-to-back weeks of lightning storms, multiple wildlands fires and updated burn bans ensuring we all get the message.
On Aug. 26, the Bureau of Land Management office in Spokane updated their fire restrictions for all of eastern Washington, including Okanogan County, to now also prohibit the use of off-road vehicles and smoking on public lands administered by the bureau and those lands of the Bureau of Reclamation.
In Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant and Yakima counties, the discharge of firearms is also now banned except while engaged in lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal, or tribal law and regulations while on lands managed by either of the above bureaus.
Last weeks lightning storm, the evening of Aug. 25, also left its mark in parts of eastern Washington, sparking nine new fires in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, according to a Forest Service announcement. Six of those fires popped up in the Methow Valley Ranger District. They include:
• 20-acre Parks Fire 1.5 miles south of the Canadian border. The fire is now being monitored after 12 smokejumpers initially responded to the blaze.
• Three-quarters of an acre Schull Creek Fire, 2 miles northwest of Deception Pass and 9 miles south of the Canadian border.
And the following fires are all one-tenth of an acre or smaller: Big Face Creek, 4 miles south of the border; Three Fools Fire, 7 miles south of the border; Power Mountain Fire, 8 miles south of the border; and the Skagit Fire, ½-mile south of the border.
High fire danger, forecasted by both the Forest Service and the National Weather Service for this past weekend, had the service ready for potential new fires. Restrictions are still in effect for National Forest lands.
Maurice Goodall, director of the county’s Emergency Management, said that though there have been lighting strikes throughout the county the past two weeks, specifically Aug. 19 and last Thursday, Aug. 25, we’ve been pretty lucky with moisture and rain coming right after them.
“Basically, the weather just doused them,” Goodall said. “Not to say the fires were done at that point, but its enough that it allows crews to safely get up there and put them to bed.”
Goodall said that for many of these fires, though relatively small, the location makes it difficult for crews to easily attack the blazes, though they are still doing great work.
“I think also, the public has done a great job of calling in these fires and smoke they see to dispatch,” Goodall added.
The largest strike from Aug. 19 was in the Riverside area with about 21.6 acres burned, this past Thursday saw the relatively largest, though accurate acreage is not yet available, in the Pleasant Valley and Chiliwist Butte areas.