The Olympic National Forest (ONF) encourages visitors to enjoy the forest this July 4th holiday, and reminds them to be fire safe throughout the year. Last year, nearly half of all fires reported in Washington and Oregon national forests (and about 95% on the ONF) were caused by people, often unintentionally from abandoned campfires, cigarette butts, or poorly disposed of hot charcoal.
Though not as fire prone as national forests in arid regions, the ONF has a history of wildfires. Steep slopes and natural fuel conditions (soils with thick layers of organic material, moss and lichens that easily combust when dry) can provide opportunities for wildfires to grow and spread, depending on other variables such as wind and weather.
In an effort to prevent human-caused wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service prohibits fireworks, explosives, and exploding targets on national forests. Visitors are also expected to follow campfire and burn restrictions that may be activated as necessary throughout the summer. “Even on the Peninsula,” explains ONF Fire Staff Officer Rita Chandler, “people need to be vigilant about fire hazards. Especially during dry summer weather, visitors should take special care to properly dispose of cigarette butts and charcoal, keep motor vehicles and equipment properly maintained to prevent sparks, and never walk away from a hot or burning campfire.”
ONF law enforcement officers may levy fines if fire safety prohibitions and restrictions are not followed. Persons responsible for starting a wildfire, even if unintentional, may also be required to provide reimbursement for the costs of the resulting fire suppression effort.
Preventing wildfires saves money and keeps people safe. Please enjoy the forest responsibly now and throughout the season.
For more information on campfire and wildfire safety, visit smokeybear.com.
Olympic National Forest News/July 2, 2014