Eastern Washington DNR lands to close amid wildfire danger

Eastern Washington
Libby Kamrowski

Elements of the Andrus Road Fire are seen in the late afternoon on Monday, July 5, 2021 in Cheney, Wash. The wildfire in Central Washington has expanded to burn 7,900 acres of land and authorities have called for additional evacuations. (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review via AP)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Wildfire season has ravaged land across the state of Washington this year, but Eastern Washington has faced unprecedented fire danger amid record-setting heat and dry conditions. That’s why Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, will announce the closure of Eastern Washington DNR Lands during her visit to Wenatchee on Tuesday.

According to the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Franz will make her announcement on Tuesday, July 20 at 10:00 a.m. She is set to deliver an update on the Red Apple Fire while discussing the impact of these fires on local communities and how the state plans to approach wildfire season going forward.

More than 5.6 million acres of land in Washington state is managed by the DNR. The decision to close Eastern Washington DNR lands comes as the Lower Basin and Upper Basin Fire Danger Rating Areas, which include the Tri-Cities, Yakima, and Walla Walla Counties, face Extreme Fire Danger.

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As of Monday morning, more than 12,000 acres were burned by the Red Apple Fire; which began on Tuesday, July 13. Extensive air and ground response from local firefighting units and DNR resources have contained 80% of the fire and have lifted all evacuation orders. Even so, the Red Apple Fire is only one of nine major wildfires burning across the state with a historic drought contributing to fire danger and higher than usual temperatures.

According to statistics from the DNR, Washington has seen a record-breaking number of fires and acres burned through this portion of the year with the number of fire ignitions doubling the state’s 10-year average.

Franz will give further context regarding this announcement on Tuesday morning, but Eastern Washington is on high alert due to fire danger and authorities believe this is the safest course of action for the time being.

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