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Monday, March 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

High holiday heat brings burn bans

Hot and dry conditions make campfires more dangerous

With the extremely hot and dry conditions, Fourth of July campers in North Idaho and Eastern Washington should consider their campouts fire-free unless they have a fire ring inside a designated recreation site.

It’s not as if any people will want a fire with temperatures on Saturday expected to be 97 degrees, but anyone on public land in Washington and Idaho, and on Potlatch-owned lands in Idaho, will face fire restrictions on one of the busiest camping weekends of the year.

Those restrictions, which include no fireworks on any state or federal lands, prohibit camp fires except in a “designated recreation site.” But, campers are allowed to use propane stoves. The restrictions also ban smoking except in enclosed vehicles.

As of Monday, the Colville National Forest will take it up a notch and will ban all fires starting Monday. Similarly, Potlatch announced Wednesday it placed a burn ban on all of its Idaho properties effective immediately.

“While we received some moisture this week, the extended forecast is for continued hot and dry conditions.  In order to help reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire we are moving into Phase II fire restrictions,” said Tim Sampson, Fire Management Officer for the Colville National Forest, in a news release.

“This increased step in fire prevention shows how serious our fire danger is anticipated to be and should serve as a reminder to forest visitors to pay extra attention while out enjoying their National Forest,” he said.   

Of other note, those trying to get away from the heat and camping on Lake Roosevelt should be aware that the Bureau of Reclamation is still raising the lake water level.

“When camping along the shoreline, we recommend that tents and other belongings be kept well away from the water’s edge,” said bureau spokeswoman Lynne Brougher said in a release. “The lake is continuing to fill from the spring drawdown.”

In addition to avoiding a flood, campers are prohibited from having any form of fire inside the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area until further notice. That ban includes charcoal fires, tiki torches and incense burners.

However, as with the other locations, propane stoves are permitted.

With wildfires already burning in areas of central Washington, campers should check their routes before trying to reach certain destinations.

The Table Rock Complex fires, located on the Walla Walla and Pomeroy Ranger Districts, have caused the closures of several forest roads and the Indian Trailhead.

Any campers hoping to head to that area should consider finding other locations.

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