LONG BEACH, Wash. - Despite recent rains, forest moisture levels in Southwest Washington remain at their lowest point in 13 years. A burn ban is still in effect for Pacific, Thurston, Lewis and Grays Harbor counties.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources issued this reminder Wednesday. The state agency protects 12 million acres of private and state-owned forestland from fire in partnership with local and federal firefighters.

"In the early fall, people are eager to clean up their yards and forests and burn the debris," said Joel Rogauskas, DNR central region fire district manager. "Unfortunately, people don't always wait until we've had enough rain - and then their burn pile escapes." It takes several soaking rains for moisture in the forest returns to a safe level.

Rogauskas said people who worry that their burn piles will get too wet to burn before the ban is lifted can cover them in the mean time.

For daily updates on changing burn restrictions, call 1-800-323-BURN or check DNR's Web site: (www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk)

People who allow a fire to escape through proven negligence may be required to pay the cost of fire suppression.

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