Concern High About Human Caused Fires In National Forest
There's concern among staff members in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest about human caused fires.
Since June 1, there've been about 200 human-caused or undetermined fire starts that have impacted National Forest lands in Oregon and Washington.
Forest Service spokesperson Robin DeMario says campfires are a major concern, and they're only allowed in campground areas.
"In those designated campgrounds, there are fire rings or standing barbeque type fixtures," said DeMario. "And that's where you can have the campfires. And again, you need to put those completely out before you leave."
DeMario says abandoned campfires are one of the biggest sources of human caused fires in the national forest.
The forest service is trying to keep human caused fires to a minimum because crews are typically dealing with a high number of lightning caused fires this time of year.
They're asking forest users to comply with restrictions on campfires.
DeMario says campfires are still allowed in the high elevation wilderness areas but are not a suggested source for heat.
"We encourage people to carry their backpacker stoves with them and use those instead, because it takes very little effort to turn those on and off, and you have to find a lot of water to put out a campfire," Demario.
There are some high elevation areas in the forest where campfires are never allowed, including above 5,000 feet elevation in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and within a half mile of certain lakes in the Wenatchee, Cle Elum and Entiat Ranger Districts.
Stage 1 fire restrictions have been in place since July 14 in the Okanogan Wenatchee national Forest.
Fires are not allowed anywhere in the forest when stage 2 restrictions are in place.
At that point, only propane or white gas stoves or propane or white gas lanterns are allowed.
Smoking is also prohibited during State 2 restrictions, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
Find out more about fire policy and restrictions in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest here.