Last Labor Day, more than 500,000 acres burned in just 36 hours

information released by Department of Natural Resources

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz asked members of the public to stay vigilant and help prevent human-caused wildfires throughout the Labor Day weekend. Commissioner Franz highlighted the need to protect both residents and exhausted fire fighters from avoidable wildfire danger. Residents are urged to avoid starting outdoor fires, follow statewide burn bans and act quickly when spotting smoke.

Last year, fires that started on Labor Day weekend accounted for more than 70 percent of all acres burned in 2020. Those fires devastated the town of Malden, and burned 283 homes and more than 600,000 acres across the state. The resulting smoke temporarily gave Western Washington the worst air quality in the world.

“This is not the time to let our guard down,” Commissioner Franz said. “Last year, only 93,000 acres had burned by the end of August. What happened next showed us how fast things can change – the Labor Day weekend firestorm burned more than 500,000 acres in less than 36 hours. I’m asking the public to help prevent a repeat of last year’s tragedy by avoiding starting outdoor fires.”

Washington has seen a record-breaking number of wildfires so far this season – there have been more than 1,716 fires around the state, already surpassing the number of total wildfires in 2020. Those fires have burned approximately 635,000 acres, more than the 2018 and 2019 fire season combined.

This fire season began months earlier than normal due to historic drought conditions, leaving firefighters worn out and resources spread thin. Fire danger east of the Cascades remains very high to extreme in most areas. Unfavorable wind conditions can rapidly turn even the smallest fire into a large one.

Some general fire prevention tips and strategies:

  • Avoid starting outdoor fires
  • Don’t park vehicles on grassy areas
  • Make sure dirt bikes and ATVs have operating spark arrestors
  • Create defensible space around your home
  • Reduce dry fuels around your home
  • Clean roof tops and gutters
  • Limb up your trees and remove dead branches
  • Pay attention to and abide by burn ban restrictions

For additional information, visit the Department of Natural Resources website.