Regional Fire-Safety Burn Bans Start June SWCAA News

Monday, June 15, 2015 - Now that our Northwest summer has finally arrived, soon we will have fire-safety burn bans throughout the region. One ban, issued by local and state fire officials, begins this year on June 23 through September 30 for all areas in Clark and Cowlitz counties. And the other ban, issued by Department of Natural Resources (DNR), begins on June 22 for all DNR-protected lands throughout the state.

Recreational campfires and cooking fires are still allowed, but only if they are built and managed properly:

  • Be a good neighbor. It is always illegal to smoke out your neighbor. Recreational fires may not cause a smoke or odor nuisance to surrounding properties.
  • Keep it small not tall. A recreational fire is under 3'x3'x2' and is allowed without a permit. Recreational fires in excess of 3'x3'x2' need a special written permit from SWCAA.
  • Fuel it right. Only propane, natural gas, charcoal, seasoned firewood (not lumber) or manufactured fire logs may be used. A very small amount of paper may be used to start the fire. It is illegal to burn anything else.
  • Stay clear of structures. State outdoor burning rules require at least 50 ft. of clearance from any structure. Local fire department setback requirements may differ.
  • Stand guard and extinguish. A person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend it at all times, and the fire must be fully extinguished and cool to the touch before leaving it.
  • Ask first. Permission from a landowner, or owner's designated representative, must be obtained before starting a recreational fire.
  • Mind the ban. Recreational fires are always prohibited during air-quality burn bans. They may also be prohibited during an elevated fire-safety burn ban or by a specific local fire district.

There is a difference between a fire-safety burn ban and an air-quality burn ban. Fire-safety burn bans are issued for fire safety reasons, by local fire districts, typically during the summer when dry conditions heighten the risk of wildfires. Air-quality burn bans are issued for air quality reasons by the Clean Air Agency, typically during the fall and winter months, when we have consecutive days with cold temperatures and little or no wind to clean away our daily air pollution. With your help, we can curb indoor and outdoor burning to help keep our air healthy.