SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Department of Natural Resources lands east of the Cascades will reopen to public access on Thursday.
The department closed those lands on July 23 because of extreme heat, drought and wildfire danger and large fires burning across the West that had stretched wildfire resources.
At the time of the closure, the number of fire ignitions in the state was about double the 10-year average, state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said in a news release.
Franz said conditions have improved dramatically thanks to the tireless efforts of firefighters, an expanded air fleet, and a focus on attacking fires quickly to limit spread.
Firefighters have worked on approximately 1,750 fires which burned more than 650,000 acres, which is significantly less acreage burned than last year, she said.
More than 98% of DNR fires were caught during the initial attack this fire season, she said.
“After months of moving from fire to fire, we are optimistic that we have turned a corner,” said Franz. “I am extraordinarily grateful to everyone who complied with this closure for sharing in the sacrifice necessary to prevent wildfires.”
A statewide burn ban remains in effect and is set to expire Sept. 30. More than three-quarters of Washington state remains in drought conditions, Franz said.