Protect Metro Parks from the risk of catastrophic fire

Reminder: It’s illegal to light up in our parks, unless you’re using a barbecue grill. The danger of wildfire in parks is real. State officials now rank the fire risk high throughout Western Washington, due to the prolonged dry spell and excessive heat.

So it’s crucial for all of use to use caution and avoid activities that might ignite a dangerous blaze. It’s against the law to smoke in Tacoma parks. It’s also illegal to light fireworks and set campfires.

Because of the hazard, state officials have restricted outdoor burning. Metro Parks managers regularly assess conditions and may impose a ban if necessary. Check MetroParksTacoma.org/picnic for the latest information.

Pierce County already has been placed under temporary burn bans twice in the last month, prompted by smoke from British Columbia wildfires that lowered air quality in the region. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency issued the bans and keeps its latest information online.

A catastrophic wildfire could endanger public safety, destroy forested areas and threaten structures within our parks. In Point Defiance Park, that means the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Fort Nisqually Living History Museum would be vulnerable. If uncontrolled, fire could spread to adjacent neighborhoods. Firefighters have been called to Point Defiance Park twice in recent weeks to suppress small fires, on July 27 and Aug. 3.

A Tacoma park trail Photo by Morf Morford

A Tacoma park trail
Photo by Morf Morford

Point Defiance Park’s 760 acres include hundreds of acres of natural forest including many old-growth Douglas firs and other native species. In 2015, managers imposed grilling restrictions because of high fire risk. The park has fire-suppression lines and hydrants, but managers determined the risk was simply too great.

Anyone who witnesses smoking, fireworks or similar activity in Tacoma parks is asked to report it to the Tacoma Police Department. The emergency number is 911. The non-emergency number is (253) 798-4721.

                                                      – Metro Parks