Remember fire safety this holiday weekend

It may have been one of the wettest springs on record in Northeast Washington, but with 12 eastern Washington wildfires starts within DNR protection areas this week, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds the public that wildfires are still a concern.

The early season rainfall has spurred vegetation that will quickly dry out and easily catch fire as this season warms, particularly in eastern Washington.

“The three-day holiday and sunny forecast are great reasons to get outside and enjoy your public lands,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “We want people in or traveling to central and eastern Washington to be aware that this year’s conditions have created abundant grass and brush that can easily act as fuel for wildfires. People should think of it as ‘grassoline,' and take appropriate measures to prevent fires starting."

To avoid accidental wildfires, the public can practice these prevention tips:

Camping and recreating
· Only build campfires where authorized and put them completely out before leaving camp. Use plenty of water and stir until the coals are cold to the touch.
· Dispose of lit smoking materials appropriately.
· Fireworks, incendiary ammunition and exploding targets start fires and are illegal to use or discharge on public lands, including all state forests.

Vehicles and Towing
· Be sure chains and other metal parts aren't dragging from your vehicle or trailer. They can throw sparks and start fires.
· Make sure all off-road vehicles have a properly functioning and approved spark arrester.
· Be careful driving through or parking on dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire. You may not even notice the fire until it’s too late.
· Check tire pressure and condition. Driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks.
· Have brakes serviced regularly to prevent brake pads wearing too thin; metal on metal can spark or drop pieces of hot brake pad.

Firewise Preparedness
For those who decide to stay home and avoid the crowds over the three-day weekend, now is a good time to prepare for wildfire. For tips to help homes better survive wildfire, go to www.firewise.org.

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