Temperatures down, outdoor fire danger sky high

Kitsap County has yet to see the worst of the wildfire season.

While the problem of fireworks-related fires has pretty much passed, the problem of illegal outdoor burning continues to get worse.

A county-wide outdoor burn ban was put into effect on June 28 and barring heavy rainstroms, it’ll most likely be enforced throughout the summer.

“We’re as concerned now as we were when the burn ban was started, if not more concerned,” said Bill Minks, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue public safety supervisor.

CKFR officials saw the last of the serious fireworks-related wildfires on July 7, but illegal burning continues to play a major role because of extremely dry conditions and rising temperatures.

“By my memory, brush fires have increased by about 20 percent from last year,” Minks said. “It is hotter this year and we have had less rain.”

The small amount of rain that fell last weekend really didn’t have much of an impact on the dry conditions.

“Small amounts of rain tend to evaporate within 24 hours, we would need a lot of rainfall to lower the chance of brush fires,” Minks said. Brush fires occur more often in rural areas where residents tend to burn more near heavy brush.

“Environmental conditions such as wind and humidity tend to be factors in brush fires,” Minks explained.

The grade and slope of the land also plays a big role in how a brush fire burns. The steeper the hill, the faster it burns, which is the same theory as a lit match. If a match is held upside down it will burn faster then if held upright. It is the same with brush fires on hills, the fire preheats the fuel.

If CKFR responds to a large brush fire that was caused by outdoor burning, the person who was burning may get a request from CKFR for reimbursement for the firefighters’ time and for the amount of time the equipment was used.

“In the past we have requested reimbursement for hazardous mitigation, which is very expensive, but we also have the ability to charge for a large fire,” Minks said.

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