Illegal campfire burns 10 acres on Kamiak Butte

Following a fire which burned approximately 10 acres on Kamiak Butte on Sunday, the park campground will close on Friday until further notice due to extremely dry conditions and fire restrictions are in place in all Whitman County parks.

Deputy Fire Marshal Tony Nuttman said an illegal campfire sparked the blaze after the wind caught it and carried it across the dry underbrush.

The park was closed after the fire but reopened on Monday for trail use. Open fires and smoking are prohibited on trails, but gas stoves and briquettes may be used for cooking.

Tim Myers, Whitman County Parks Director, said the tall, dry grass poses a high fire risk, especially because the parks department can’t monitor Kamiak Butte at all times.

“When it’s crispy like that,” he said, “fires move fast through it.”

He said that though the durable ponderosa pines will likely recover, the fire destroyed much of the underbrush and larger bushes.

A news release from the Parks and Developmental Services Department states that fireworks are not allowed in a number of Whitman County parks, including Kamiak Butte, Klemgard, Wawawai, Colfax Trail, Elberton and the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail.

Updates will be posted to the department’s website and Facebook page.

Reporting by Cody Cottier