We’ll be the first ones to say it — at Whatcom Tree Service, we love ourselves a good tree removal job. However, there is a time and place for trees to be removed, and burning away in wildfires is not one of them.

Indeed, it’s wildfire season now, and if you’ve been keeping up with the news, there are already massive regions of forest ablaze in several parts of the country. While Washington isn’t quite as susceptible to wildfires as drier states are (another reason to have a love/hate relationship with the rain here), it is still something that can happen, especially if people are making careless mistakes.

We conduct tree services because we love trees and the beautiful nature in our home state. If you’re going out of your way to call a tree service, it’s likely that you do too. Did you know that most forest fires are caused by careless human mistakes? The next time you’re in our Washington forests, make sure to not do these things:

Careless Campfire Behavior

There are so many ways to mismanage a campfire that this point deserves a little list of its own. Of all the mistakes on this list, irresponsible campfires are probably the most prominent. Here are some careless campfire mistakes that you should avoid:

  • Not Using a Firepit: If you’re ever in the wild, you should always use a firepit.This doesn’t have to be one of those metal rings with an adjustable grill plate — a ring of large rocks will do (which is often what you’ll find at remote or unpaid campsites). This helps to rein in the fire, preventing ash, coals, and embers from leaving their spot.
  • Building it Too Big: We’re not saying there isn’t a time and place for massive bonfires, but deep in the woods is not one of them. Some fires start because people get a little overzealous with their fire. A stack of firewood will do for forest campfires — do everyone a favor and leave your wooden pallets at home.
    Leaving it Unattended. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Don’t leave your fire burning while you’re not watching it! Just because embers and burning debris don’t usually fly out doesn’t mean it won’t happen when you’re not around. Don’t leave your fires burning unattended — period.
  • Not Putting it Out Correctly: Campfires are far more stubborn than they look. Did you know that a fire can come back to life when it’s been almost completely doused with water? If you’ve been burning wood for a while, those coals won’t be in any rush to cool down. While dousing your flames with water is a good start, the coals can always come back to life. The most reliable way is to completely smother them with dirt or sand.

Ignoring Fire Bans

Another big mistake that leads to forest fires is ignoring fire bans. Fire bans are fairly common, and they are put into effect due to factors such as your region, season, and number of fires currently ablaze. Do we have to mention that these are, in fact, enacted for a good reason? The rangers and conservation authorities of the state know more than the average joe, and if there’s a fire ban, it’s best to just obey, even if it kills the impromptu s’mores night you were going to have.

The bottom line is that there are far too many people who think that they’re experienced enough with fires to not let them get out of control. These people think the fire ban isn’t for them, and they’ll go out of their way to find a camp spot that’s not easily seen by passing rangers. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, miles upon miles of trees are claimed by the flames.

Fire bans can vary in severity, but for the sake of yourself and everyone else, it’s best to obey them. At worst, you might not be able to have any kind of flame at all, but there are situations that will allow you to create campfires under certain specific conditions (such as being in a fire pit at a paid campground). Consider these, instead of breaking the rules just because you want a more traditional camping experience.

Discarding Cigarettes

This is one of the most common causes for fires, and one of the most tragically avoidable. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how this starts wildfires — you’re literally tossing a burning object on the ground. While most cigarette butts don’t cause a problem, there is always the exception, and let’s be real, you shouldn’t be tossing them around anyway. Aside from the obvious implications it has for forest fires, it’s also an irresponsible form of littering.

We understand that a large portion of America’s population smokes. That’s okay — but if you do, just be sure to dispose of your cigarette butts properly. Use an ashtray wherever possible, and always make sure the butt is completely out before you’re tossing it anywhere, the trash included.


With the 4th of July coming right up, this is a particularly relevant point. Look, we get it — fireworks are fun. If there’s one constant that’s as sure as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, it’s that people will find a way to launch fireworks on the 4th of July, regardless of whether or not they’re banned. There will be fireworks abound on the Fourth, and whether they were obtained locally or bought from the exotic firework markets of Wyoming, you can bet that some people will be using them irresponsibly.

Unfortunately, this misuse of fireworks often happens within the confines of our forests here in Washington. It’s kind of hard to avoid, given how much of our state is made up of forest, but that being said, great care should be taken when launching and playing with fireworks. We’re lucky to have a state that’s fairly heavy with moisture (in the Bellingham area and Greater Seattle, anyway), making the risk less pronounced than it is in other states, but that’s no reason to be cavalier with fireworks and flames. We love busting open the fireworks every year, but make sure it’s done with care and respect towards our environment!

Tree Services in Whatcom County

We hope you’ll take these tips to heart the next time you’re among our mighty Washington trees. And, of course, if you ever have need of tree services for your own property, we would be more than happy to lend a hand. We provide a variety of useful services to the people of Bellingham, Ferndale,  Geneva, Whatcom County, and other surrounding areas. Whether you’re looking for tree removal, stump grinding, professional consultation, branch trimming, or more, we’ve got you covered. Ready to get started? Contact us today!