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Burn defying county request, gets out of control

 

April 22, 2020



A request from the county to residents to voluntarily refrain from outdoor burning may have gone literally up in smoke in Goldendale Monday afternoon.

Details are still coming in, but early indications are that an outdoor burn a few miles out of town got out of control, resulting in a rush of firefighters and equipment, including a helicopter dropping water on the blaze.

Last Thursday the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners along with The Klickitat County Public Health Department (KCPHD) and The Department of Emergency Management (KCDEM) issued a request Klickitat County residents to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning while the county responds to COVID-19. The story was posted on The Sentinel’s Breaking News page (the Sentinel website has been getting about 46,000 unique visits since the Covid crisis began).

In its statement, the county said:

We recognize that many residents use fire as a necessary tool to manage their lands, including industrial forest landowners, farmers, small woodland owners, and rural residents. However, it is important to weigh possible effects on the wider community before choosing to burn. Please be a good neighbor. Smoke from fires during the current pandemic may result in the following negative consequences for the public and first responders:

• Smoke inhalation causes respiratory symptoms, which may incorrectly appear to be COVID-19, leading to unnecessary testing or self-isolation

• Exposure to smoke will increase the risk of contracting respiratory diseases and/or worsen existing respiratory diseases for members of the public

• Right now our county has limited means to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, we are also prioritizing PPE and have limited supply

First responders are operating at limited capacity and have limited resources to respond to out-of-control burns COVID-19 affects the respiratory system. Fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the most common symptoms. While some people with COVID-19 are hospitalized, most patients recover at home, where smoke from a nearby outdoor burn could worsen their condition. To avoid additional health impacts, all people in Klickitat County are asked to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning activities until further notice.

Burning that can be delayed includes:

• Debris burning around your property

• Slash and forest burning

Agricultural burning that would impact neighbors and can be delayed

KC Board of Commissioners, KCDEM, and KCPHD encourage the public to use the following alternatives to burning when available:

• Compost or chip yard debris on site

• Haul yard debris to a composting site or to the transfer station for disposal

For more information on recycling and composting visit: http://klickitatcounty.org/374/Solid-Waste.

 

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