HANFORD -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it was imposing a fire ban on refuges and the Hanford Reach National Monument in the Mid-Columbia River Complex because of dry conditions.
Building any fire, including the use of charcoal briquettes and cooking stoves, is forbidden on the Reach and Columbia, Cold Springs, Conboy Lake, McKay Creek, McNary, Toppenish and Umatilla national wildlife refuges.
Fireworks also are banned, as is smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle and operating any motor without an approved and working spark arrester.
Benton County officials also raised the fire danger rating to high on Tuesday. It's the first time this season that conditions have warranted that warning.
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Chris Schulte, fire management officer, said the cool and wet late spring led to increased growth of cheat grass and other fuels that now are drying out.