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"County burn ban: off again, on again"

"Blame it on the weather, but last week's lifting of the countywide burn ban by the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association was a little premature.The ban was lifted at 8 a.m. Sept. 11, based on weather forecasts of rain and high humidity over the preceding weekend, according to Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Randy Billick.Instead, the county experienced sunshine and high winds last week, which aggravated an already volatile situation for brush fires, Billick said.The chiefs association, in cooperation with the Kitsap County Fire Marshal's Office and the state Department of Natural Resources, announced later that the ban on all outdoor burning was reinstated as of midnight Friday. Under the ban, all burning permits are suspended and no outdoor fires are permitted except those in contained barbecue units.The ban will remain in place until further notice.Billick said reinstating the ban was necessary. At the time he was contacted, about 2:30 p.m. Friday, every fire unit in the entire Kitsap area was out fighting brush fires. One was a fairly major fire on Stottlemeyer Road north of Poulsbo, reported after noon on Friday.Although the fire was under control, Billick said They're still calling in brush rigs for mop up.He said firefighters also battled a substantial brush fire in Seabeck on Thursday after a car fire set a house ablaze.As he was speaking, a call came over the radio for help with a brush fire in Jefferson County.In my official opinion it's still very dry. It's extremely dangerous out there still, he said.CKRF Fire Chief Steve Bigelow said a burn ban can be called only after the Department of Natural Resources, the county fire services and county commissioners agree it's necessary.Nobody does it independently, he said. We have scientists in the DNR, environmentalists who measure the moisture in the ground and the density, then come to the fire services (with the information).But we know what's out there in the real world, because of the fire calls already coming in, Bigelow added.The fire services then contact the elected officials - county commissioners and city mayors - and say, 'Folks, it's time for a burn ban,' Bigelow said. The elected officials have to proclaim the burn ban, he said.The fire chiefs were not alone in their concern, Billick noted.We've been receiving very concerned phone calls from citizens ... I can't believe how many citizens called. It's the first time ever we've had this many citizens call asking for the burn ban to be put back on, he said.Billick stressed that anyone doing any outside burning must have a permit, according to state law.And although permits are not needed for campfires or barbecues, residents are still required to observe certain safety measures.You have to have running water - a garden hose - and a shovel nearby, and a person of legal age (18 years) attending the fire, Billick said. "

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