Grand Mound Fire (Aug. 2, 2017)

A firefighter walks back to his fire truck while crews work on extinguishing a fire in Grand Mound last August. 

Burn restrictions for all unincorporated areas in Lewis County will be expanded to prohibit all outdoor burning, including recreational fires, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.

Centralia followed the county’s announcement with their own Friday, saying fires would be banned in city limits beginning Monday as well.

The county’s decision followed a meeting with the commissioners on Friday afternoon that included discussions on “the most dangerous fire weather of the year.”

Starting on Monday, only liquid gas or propane camp stoves that do not use briquettes and have on and off controls will be permitted. 

“The decision was made due to the continued, and in some parts of unincorporated Lewis County, worsening dry season conditions,” according to a press release.

The Lewis County Fire Marshal and chiefs of the local fire districts strongly urged county residents and property owners to pay attention to the conditions on their properties through proactive fire prevention measures.

“While the Board of County Commissioners and the Fire Marshal recognize that this decision may alter recreational plans, the decision to expand the burn restriction to a total ban reflects the county’s priority of public safety and the protection of personnel as well as property,” according to the release.

The total burn ban and open burning restrictions will remain in effect until modified or rescinded by the commissioners, at which time a public announcement will be released.

During a meeting with the commissioners on Friday, Mike Kytta, fire chief of Riverside Fire Authority, said it was prudent to initiate such a ban. He referenced several nearby fires as examples.

“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been across the county line several times in the Grand Mound Prairie, and wildfire does not stop at the county line,” he said. “Our conditions here are really not any better than what they are in Thurston County.” 

Kytta said local fire districts do not have the depth of resources that other counties have.

“Most fire protection districts are challenged every day to meet the normal demand,” he said. “… Any step we can take to partner with the community to help with fire protection, we appreciate.”

Earlier this month, the county enacted a burn ban that excluded camp or other recreational fires. With the fire danger increasing, the county believed it was important to take it to the next level. Area fire chiefs recently supported expanding the ban, Lee Napier, community development director, told commissioners.

To stay informed on the current status, citizens can call the 24 hour automated information line at 360-740-1133.

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