Images of Kitsap County
Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: June 15, 2016
Contact: Rebecca Pirtle, Commissioners' Office
360.337.4650 or rpirtle@co.kitsap.wa.us
No: 2016-056

Six beach fires at Point No Point this spring cause for alarm
County, local fire district remind public: No fires allowed in county parks

(Port Orchard, WA)  With summer’s official start next week, county officials and local fire agencies are concerned with the high number of beach fires they’ve already responded to this spring. In May 2016 alone, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue responded to six beach fires in Point No Point County Park that all appear to have started with improperly extinguished bonfires. Fires are not allowed in any county parks. With drier weather on the way and grass and groundcover drying up, Kitsap County Commissioners and the Parks Department remind citizens that not only are beach fires prohibited, but those set illegally put a strain on the resources of local emergency responders.

A brush fire in July 2015, just south of the county’s historic and treasured Point No Point Lighthouse, burned nearly one acre of Point No Point Beach and threatened the adjacent bird sanctuary, light station and residential homes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a one-time occurrence. According to Michèle Laboda, Prevention and Community Services Specialist of North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, crews responded to six fires at the park in August 2015 alone and another seven fires there between April and July. Those who set the fires may put them out with a bucket of water but don’t realize stubborn embers can remain that the wind fans back into flames overnight. With tinder-dry conditions, fireworks discharged from the beach may also cause fires.

Blazes on beaches present challenging conditions to totally extinguish because fire trucks are unable to fully access the areas, according to Laboda. Water supply is also a challenge in these remote places. Fire rescue boats from North Kitsap and Jefferson County responded to the July blaze at Point No Point with over 20 firefighters on the scene to put it out. These labor intensive incidents keep firefighters from responding to other needs in the district.

Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam reminds citizens that like last year, this summer is anticipated to be drier than normal. Burning restrictions are listed at the Fire Marshal’s website where citizens may also sign up for e-mail updates. Most burning, except for small recreational fires, requires a permit. Check with local fire districts for information on burn bans and regulations.

The fine for illegal burning is $1,000 for a first offense. In addition to fines levied by the county, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue added that persons found responsible for an illegal bonfire could be billed by the fire district for the considerable costs associated with extinguishing the fire.

Wildlife Fire Preparedness Seminars
A series of Wildland Fire Preparedness Seminars, designed to raise public awareness, are being offered in North Kitsap in partnership with the Poulsbo Fire Department, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Poulsbo Historical Society and the Suquamish Tribe. The seminars include information on assessing homes and property for wildfire resistance and identifying neighborhood strategies.

"We each can do a lot to curb the occurrences of beach fires this and every summer,” said County Commissioner Rob Gelder. “The upcoming workshops will go a long way toward increasing awareness of the risks and responsibilities as we get out and enjoy our natural park amenities."

The 50-minute workshops, which begin at 7 p.m., are offered at the following locations: June 14, House of Awakened Culture, Suquamish; June 15, Hansville Community Center; June 20, Keyport Fire Station; June 21, Village Green Community Center, Kingston; June 22, Port Gamble Pavilion.

For additional information, contact Poulsbo Fire Department (360-779-3997) or North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (360-297-3619). Interested persons can also find valuable tips on the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ wildfire preparedness page or on the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities page.

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Last Updated:  June 15, 2016