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Deming Road grass fire aftermath (June 28, 2021). Photo courtesy of WCFD1

Lack of rain and high temperatures have created ideal fire conditions – firefighters are concerned as the 4th approaches

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Firefighters responded to several outside vegetation fires today, June 28th, and they fear there could be more as people start lighting off fireworks.

Among the dispatches firefighters received, Whatcom County Fire District 1 (WCFD1) responded to a report of a grass fire in the 3900 block of Deming Road today about 1pm. The resident called 911 and reported they had been mowing and feared that started the fire. WCFD1 Assistant Fire Chief Rachel Carlson said it had spread to about a 100 by 50-foot area by the time they arrived. WCFD1 firefighters spent about 2 hours working to ensure the fire was out and would not restart. “This could have been a much worse outcome had there been any wind,” Carlson said.

Whatcom County Fire District 7 (WCFD7) responded to a report of trees on fire in a forested corner of a property in the 5400 block of Barr Road. The resident discovered the fire as it was growing to about 40-feet up in evergreen trees next to the road and used a garden hose to prevent the fire from spreading until firefighters arrived. WCFD7 Assistant Fire Chief Dean Crosswhite said it was fortunate the resident acted quickly and called 911 quickly. He also noted this could have been a much more damaging fire had the air not been as still as it was.

Scene of an outdoor fire in tall trees on a Barr Road property (June 28, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News
Scene of an outdoor fire in tall trees on a Barr Road property (June 28, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News

In addition to local fire, the State Fire Marshal’s Office announced today they mobilized a firefighting effort to battle a growing 25-acre wildfire in King County, near Issaquah. The Cedar Hills Fire started today about 1pm. and, as of 6pm, was threatening homes, power lines and timber. 

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Unincorporated areas of Whatcom County are under a Stage 1 burn ban as of 5pm, June 25th, along with Whatcom County Fire District 11, serving Lummi Island. Whatcom County Fire District 17, serving the Sandy Point region, maintains a permanent burn ban prohibiting residential yard debris, beach debris and land clearing fires at any time. A similar permanent burn ban is in place within incorporated cities and their surrounding Urban Growth Areas.

Conditions are not expected to get any better as cooler, but not cool, temperatures are expected to begin arriving tomorrow and there is only a meager expectation of rain in the extended forecast. In compiling this story, Whatcom News spoke with several local fire chiefs who expressed fears that a very serious fire is likely and would be the result carelessness. The consensus was that Whatcom County got through the record high temperatures this weekend without a serious outside fire or firework-related fire because so many people stayed indoors to avoid the heat instead of having campfires and setting off fireworks.

Violations of burning and fireworks restrictions can result in a minimum $250 fine. In addition, you may be held financially responsible for fire suppression costs, as well as be criminally charged, if you are responsible for a fire that needs to be extinguished by firefighters.

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