Fire ban implemented at Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, Hanford Reach
| June 28, 2022 1:41 PM
OTHELLO — All activities likely to start a fire have been banned on national wildlife refuges in the Mid-Columbia region, effective through Sept. 30. The region includes the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge near Othello.
The order also applies to the Hanford Reach National Monument.
“Any use of fire, including charcoal briquettes and cooking stoves, is prohibited. Also banned are smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle and operation of any motor without an approved and working spark arrestor. Fireworks and campfires are banned year-round,” according to a press release from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.
The wet spring led to an increased buildup of grass and other vegetation, the press release said, increasing the danger of wildfires.
Drivers are urged to be careful when parking in tall grass. Many fires are started when vehicles stop on the side of the road, the press release said.
“With the increase in vegetation, this fire season has the potential for larger, more devastating wildfires that are difficult to fight,” said John Janak, USFWS fire management officer. “So far this year we’ve been lucky, but in these conditions that can change in an instant.”