The Chelan County fire marshal is raising fire danger ratings starting Saturday. 

The danger rating is being raised from high to very high in the county's Valley Zone and from moderate to high in the Mountain Zone.  

Chelan County spokesperson Jill FitzSimmons says the move has everything to do with a heat wave coming this weekend. 

“This has very much to do with our temperatures that are coming to us on the weekend and into next week,” said FitzSimmons. “The fire marshal wanted to get ahead of it, especially since people will be outdoors and recreating.” 

The fire danger rating refers to the fire-prone conditions in an area. 

The danger rating for the Chelan County Valley Zone is now at the second highest level while the Mountain Zone is one level below. There are four danger ratings for the county: moderate, high, very high and extreme. 

The higher fire danger ratings come as a heat wave is hitting the region with temperatures moving into the middle 100s by the weekend. An excessive heat warning will be in place over much of Washington east of the Cascades from noon on Saturday through 10 pm Tuesday. 

FitzSimmons says the heightened danger ratings are meant to raise awareness of the likelihood of wildfires. 

"These are things we need to start thinking about, and those temperatures are just going to start browning up our landscape, making things drier," FitzSimmon said. "We're at that point where things are only just going to get dry." 

In addition to the heightened fire danger ratings, Chelan County fire restrictions are moving from “general” to “stage 1” on Saturday. General restrictions go into effect every year on June 1. The difference with stage 1 restrictions has mainly to do with mostly handheld open flame devices. The stage 1 restrictions do not include camp stoves or barbecues. 

Fire restrictions peak at stage 3, when the county may close identified roads in high fire-prone areas. 

Stage 1 restrictions are delineated below: 

  • Outdoor, open burning of grass, leaves, brush and other natural materials has been prohibited since June 1. 
  • Motorists cannot drive off a county roadway, expect to access open public lands. 
  • The use of exploding targets and incendiary ammunition is prohibited. 
  • Residential campfires are allowed only in a designated campfire area, including a portable fire pit. 
  • The use of open-flame devices, such as tools with open flames, are restricted. This does not include cooking devices, such as camp stoves or barbecues. 
  • Fires continue to be allowed in commercial barbecues and camp stoves. 

Chelan County Fire Marshal Chris Pedersen wants the public to be vigilant trying to prevent fires. 

“Wildfire season is underway in Eastern Washington,” Pedersen said. “People should be monitoring conditions and emergency alerts regularly. And I can’t stress this enough, don’t light off fireworks this weekend – they are illegal in Chelan County.”

Counties with the worst droughts in Washington

Washington State is continuing its drought emergency into 2024, citing low snowpack and hot, dry forecasts. Here are the counties most affected by drought, based on data from the U.S. Drought Monitor to identify the counties in Washington with the worst droughts in the week leading up to April 30, 2024.
Note: "Abnormally dry" is not considered to be a drought, but is included as a separate data point.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton


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