After a pair of illegal fires within the Quilcene Fire Rescue (QFR) district during the burn ban, two demands for reimbursement were issued to property owners for their expenses, which added up to more than $4,000.
In the amount of $3,790, an invoice was delivered to a property owner on McDonald Road for the expenses to extinguish an out of control brush fire on July 8, during the established burn ban. Witnesses stated and evidence indicated the stump burning was initiated the week prior, and had necessitated resources from four Jefferson County fire districts and the Department of Natural Resources.
The second went to a property owner on Madrona Street for expenses incurred to investigate an illegal fires on their property. The fire district must respond to all reports of illegal fires to ensure they are put out properly and investigate.
The Jefferson County Fire Chief's Association institutes a summer burn ban during the warm, dry months from July 1 to the end of September every year. All outdoor burning except for small recreational fires on private property are not allowed as a safety precaution. This includes all land clearing burns and any fires not in an approved fire pit larger than 3-feet by 3-feet.
“Burning when the weather conditions are warm and dry are a risk not only for the property owner but for their neighbors as well,” QFR Fire Chief Larry Karp said in a press release. “A small outside fire has the potential to grow exponentially before the fire department even has a chance to get on scene, and this endangers the whole neighborhood.” He continued to state that burning during an established ban is “plain dangerous,” and there were several structure fires in Jefferson County and the Quilcene Fire District that were results of illegal burns.
Washington State RCW and the Department of Natural Resources rules give the fire district authority to recoup expenses for responses such as the ones mentioned.