WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — This past summer saw the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office (WCFMO) and Whatcom County Fire Districts implement a Stage 2 burn ban in mid-August. Extended periods without rain plus unseasonably warm weather resulted in low fuel moisture levels necessitating the bans. Recreational campfires and beach fires are not permitted under Stage 2 burn bans in addition to other Stage 1 restrictions.
Today, September 15th, WCFMO announced that the Stage 2 burn ban in unincorporated areas of Whatcom County will be lifted effective at 4pm today. An increase in fuel moisture levels and recent rain were cited as the reason behind the decision.
As a result of WCFMO’s announcement, a Stage 1 burn ban will remain in place across all unincorporated areas of Whatcom County. Under a Stage 1 burn ban, yard debris, land clearing and commercial burning is not permitted while approved recreational campfires and beach fires are.
Recreational fire requirements include the following.
- Size is 3-feet by 3-feet or less
- Burning seasoned firewood or charcoal only
- Enclosure is 16-inches high and made of steel, masonry or rockery
- Located 25 feet from structures and combustible material
- Minimum of 15-feet overhead clearance
- Connected garden hose or 2 5-gallon buckets of water are at the fire location
- Allowed after dark if attended until fire is out cold
- Winds remain below 7mph
Whatcom County implemented a Stage 1 Burn Ban in early June.
Permanent Stage 1 Burn Bans (only recreational fires are allowed) are in place within the following incorporated cities and their urban growth areas (UGAs).
- City of Bellingham and surrounding UGAs
- City of Sumas and surrounding UGAs
- City of Lynden and surrounding UGAs
- Cities of Everson and Nooksack and surrounding UGAs
- City of Ferndale and surrounding UGAs
- City of Blaine and surrounding UGAs
- Urban growth area of Cherry Point
- Urban growth area of Columbia Valley
- Urban growth area of Birch Bay
UGAs are also under the jurisdiction of the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office. Meaning they are subject to Stage 2 and 3 burn ban orders along with the rest of unincorporated Whatcom County.
Violations of burn restrictions can result in a minimum $250.00 fine. In addition, anyone with an illegal fire that escapes or needs to be extinguished by the fire department may face criminal charges and be held financially responsible for fire suppression costs according to WCFMO.