This summer, please don’t play with fire

In September 2017, the Eagle Creek Fire torched 50,000 acres across the Columbia River Gorge.

In September 2017, the Eagle Creek Fire torched 50,000 acres across the Columbia River Gorge, burning for three months before it was finally contained.

The fire was caused, investigators found, by a 15-year-old boy from Vancouver, Washington who was setting off fireworks. The boy was ultimately sentenced to five years on probation and nearly 2,000 hours of community service, and was ordered to write more than 150 apology letters.

Oh, and he was also ordered to pay more than $36 million in restitution.

Let the Eagle Creek fire be a lesson for our community this year — especially with a drought emergency already declared for most of Washington, including the island, and with the recent news from Puget Sound Energy that some of their service areas most prone to utility-caused wildfires are on Vashon Island.

No one wants to start a wildfire, and we certainly don’t want to be ordered to pay millions in restitution, either. May is Wildfire Awareness Month, and Vashon Island Fire & Rescue has advice on the basics of preventing or suppressing wildfires at home.

Clear dry brush and other ignitable debris away from your home, creating a buffer zone that could slow or stop a wildfire. Regularly remove dead leaves, pine needles and other debris that could kindle a wildfire, and trim trees or shrubs so they don’t overhang your roof or touch your home. And keep lawns and gardens watered and well-maintained.

Recreational fires can easily get out of control and are also a contributor to wildfires. Build them in metal or concrete fire pits, always make sure an alert person is keeping them under control, and fully extinguish them once you plan to leave the area or cease using them.

Also, check with the King County Fire Marshal before you burn. As of this article’s publication, there is currently no fire safety burn ban active in the county.

In the event of a fire emergency on the island, you’ll see blinking lights on the fire danger signs around the island. You can tune in to 1650 AM, or sign up ahead of time for emergency alerts at

And in case it needs to be said, please don’t launch fireworks — which are illegal in King County — into the woods.