The information listed below is general parameters dealing with a burn ban. Specific information related to any current ban will be updated as soon as available and posted on the main page.
Additionally, up-to-date burn ban information is available at www.waburnbans.net.
Kittitas County burn bans: https://www.co.kittitas.wa.us/firemarshal/burn-ban.aspx.
Department of Natural Resources burn ban information can be found here: https://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/protection/firedanger/.
Forest Service burn ban information can be found here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/okawen/home/?cid=fsbdev3_053600
Fire Safety Burn Bans (typically called for in the summer)
Brenda Larsen, our county Fire Marshal, works with the DNR, Forest Service and various fire districts when declaring a fire safety burn ban. When the fire danger reaches a critical level the potential for large scale wild fires increases dramatically and this is often the trigger point for a burn ban. For most of us, including the public, this is easy to understand. Fire districts are not required to follow the county burn ban but since Taylor Bridge most do. To make it more complicated DNR, Forest Service and National Parks may implement their own burn bans that do not always follow the counties.
Air Quality Burn Bans (typically called for in the fall and winter)
Air quality burn bans are currently regulated by Washington State Department of Ecology although local jurisdictions do have the authority to implement their own system provided it does not reduce public safety. Determining when a burn ban is imposed and at what level is achieved by actual air monitoring and weather forecasting, typically no more than two days out.
There are different levels of burn bans.
- DOE permit holder burn bans: Applies to larger outdoor debris and agriculture burns that would require a DOE permit and tend to produce large quantities of smoke. These bans do not include recreational fires, fire places or wood stoves.
- Stage 1 Burn Ban: This is the next highest level and includes DOE permit holders, recreation-al fires, uncertified wood stoves and fire places. Exemptions are granted to homes that use wood stoves or fireplaces as their sole source of heat.
- Stage 2 Burn Ban: This is the highest level burn ban and includes all burning except when the smoke is produced from homes where the sole source of heating is from a wood stove. In Ellensburg these are typically days of severe air stagnation with fog and no wind. Air quality burn bans are often difficult to understand since the pollution being measured is 2.5 microns and smaller, that is 1/30th the diameter of an average human hair, so we can’t see it. However if you have respiratory issues you know on these days breathing is more difficult and even the average person can smell the heavy smoke hanging in air.