Fire and weather officials are bracing for the possibility of a busy wildfire season in the state this summer, and a state agency already has issued a burn ban for land it protects in Eastern Washington.
The ban, which took effect Tuesday, covers all lands east of the Cascade Mountains protected by the state Department of Natural Resource. It does not include national parks or forests.
DNR spokeswoman Janet Pearce said fires in approved campground fire pits are still allowed, but other burning is not. The DNR provides fire protection for 13 million acres, including state forests, state parks and privately held forest land.
Of the 764 fires in the agency’s territory last year, 70 percent were caused by people, Pearce said.
She said campers should remember they can be held financially liable for damage their campfire causes, even if they think the fire is out. The entire West Coast — from Alaska to California — is expected to have warmer weather than usual this summer.
Precipitation should stay at normal levels, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Andy Haner, National Weather Service incident meteorologist in Seattle, said that translates into a more active fire season than usual in Washington state.
Haner said Western Washington had a wet stretch this spring, but since May 10 there’s been little precipitation in Washington on either side of the Cascades.
That means evergreen needles and forest undergrowth has dried out and is vulnerable to fire, Haner said.