By Meg Olson
The Whatcom County Fire Marshal continues to tweak the burn ban as recent wet weather has failed to alleviate dry conditions as much as expected.
On September 9, following a period of rain, the fire marshal lifted the total burn ban that had been in place during the dry summer months, allowing recreational, land clearing and yard waste burning to resume. However, on the afternoon of September 13, after a rash of wildland fires throughout the county, the total burn ban was back on.
“The recent rain did not have much impact on grasses and other light fuels as hoped, so warm weather and winds easily dry those materials and make them vulnerable to fire spread,” wrote fire chief Christopher Carleton.
On Wednesday, September 14, the fire marshal adjusted the ban to allow recreational fires only. No land clearing and yard waste burning is permitted, even to those who have a permit, until the ban is lifted.
Recreational fires are allowed in designated campgrounds and on improved properties with the landowner’s permission. Recreational fires are fires that are less than 3 feet in diameter, burning only seasoned firewood or charcoal, and are built in an approved fire enclosure.
Violations of these burn restrictions can result in a minimum $250.00 fine. “In addition if you have an illegal fire that escapes or needs to be extinguished by the fire department, you may be held financially responsible for fire suppression costs, as well as potentially being held criminally responsible,” Carleton added.