By Guy Gifford, Northeast Region landowner assistance forester & fire prevention and Firewise coordinator, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org
In Eastern Washington, a new fire danger rating system has been implemented, no longer based on county boundaries, but instead on geographic areas that share similar fuels, climate, and topography in addition to administrative boundaries.
The change to Fire Danger Rating Areas (FDRAs) was implemented with the intent of having a common fire behavior component and was developed through interagency collaboration to help clarify the message among multiple agencies. Western Washington fire danger ratings and burn restrictions will continue to be implemented along county boundaries.
While the county boundary system made it easy for people to know what the fire danger rating and burn restrictions were wherever they are, it did not account for the variability of fire danger caused by physical geographic factors. This was readily apparent, for instance, in counties along the east slopes of the Cascades where a county may stretch from the Columbia River to the top of the Cascade Mountains.
The new system is capable of presenting low fire danger in the high Cascades and high fire danger below in the valleys.
Outdoor burning restrictions administered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources in Eastern Washington will also follow the Fire Danger Rating Area boundaries. Also keep in mind that additional burn restrictions may be put on by local city and county agencies.
Whether it is a campfire or you are burning forest debris, always check with DNR and your local authorities before you burn. You can check current DNR burn restrictions by calling 1-800-323-BURN (2876) or check out the DNR fire danger rating and burn restriction website.
Large Fire Information
Want to stay up to date on large wildfires happening in Washington and throughout the country? While there is a lot of information on wildfires on the internet, it can be difficult to know which website to go to. Below are a handful of informative websites:
- Inciweb – Most large fires, and some prescribed burns, will have their own webpage hosted on Inciweb. These webpages are normally created by an Incident Management Team (IMT), so typically only fires that require an IMT will be found here. Some grass fires that burn out quickly, for instance, will not have an IMT and won’t be found on Inciweb.
- The “Sit Report” – The National Interagency Fire Center is another great website for a quick summary on what is happening across the nation. The “Sit Report,” which stands for Incident Management Situation Report, shows how many fires were started the previous day across the nation and also reports on all new large fires. To see the current report, click the link above and find it on the left under the “Fire Information” heading.
- Northwest Interagency Coordination Center – This website has a wealth of information specifically on Washington and Oregon fires. In the center of the page, you will find several different links that will give you the details on current fires in these two states, including the potential for significant fire in the next seven days. On the left side, beneath the heading “Logistics/Dispatch,” you can see what various aircraft, crews, and other resources are available today to fight fires and also where those resources may be committed to for the day.
- Canadian Wildfire Information System – If you’re near the border, or are just interested in what’s happening up north, this website will give you information on Canadian fires.