The Kent Fire Department is warning the public about the danger of brush fires, after responding to several large brush fires in the south Puget Sound area over the last week. One, along I-5 on July 13, burned more than 200 yards of brush and came close to commercial structures in Tukwila, according to a press release.
The department says brush fire danger is high for the next two to three months and the little rain expected during this period will not significantly reduce the danger.
Brush fires can be started by any heat source. Along roadways, many of the fires are caused by discarded burning materials such as cigarettes. Even cigarettes that the user thinks have been extinguished can contain enough heat to start a fire in dry grass or brush. Low hanging chains from large trucks, boats, and camping trailers can cause sparks that lead to fires. Trains and rail grinding can also start fires.
While most brush fires near roadways are more of a nuisance than a life-safety hazard, they do cause a visual distraction, can lead to limited visibility due to the smoke, and create an ugly burned out area. Brush fires away from roadways can be the result of fireworks, discarded cigarettes, campfires, land clearing fires, malicious mischief and other “controlled” fires. These fires can be especially dangerous because of nearby structures, including homes.
There are limitations on recreational burning in the Kent Fire Department RFA response area. Recreational fires are defined as cooking fires and campfires that use charcoal or dry-seasoned firewood. They can be above-ground portable fireplaces or in-ground fire pits.
In-ground fire pits must be built at least 50 feet from any structure and 25 feet from any combustible material. Pit fires cannot exceed two feet in height and three feet in diameter.
Portable outdoor fireplaces such as “chimineas” or similar devices must be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and cannot be operated within 15 feet of multifamily dwellings and commercial structures. There are no distance requirements for one and two-family dwellings.
Burn barrels are prohibited at all times. Use fire carefully and never leave any outdoor fire unattended. In addition, supervise children near any fire and keep them safe by creating a “kid free” zone around campfires.