Legal burn catches eyes of community

Editor’s note: This story was updated Nov. 16, 2023. — MD

Clallam County Fire District 3 firefighters responded to a large burn visible across the Sequim area on the morning of Nov. 10, to what they later learned was a legally-permitted burn through the Department of Natural Resources.

Battalion Chief Chris Turner said a resident in a gated community on Baker View Drive off Lost Mountain Road started more than 20 slash piles with intention to ignite a few more.

All were in control when the fire district left the premises, Turner said, and the homeowner was notified of the potential risk.

Norm Schaaf, of NorthStar Forestry LLC. of Port Angeles, said his consulting business does a variety of forestry services for homeowners on the Olympic Peninsula, and that he was doing a permitted burn for the homeowner.

He said one part of his job is to reduce logging slash and fire hazard by a road or home.

Burning is one option for removal, along with chipping and grinding. However, Schaaf said chipping can leave too much debris and prevent replanting, and he was unable to get a permit to grind and remove the trees.

“If conditions were bad, we wouldn’t have burned,” Schaaf said.

The permit allowed them to burn the piles all at once, he said, and it takes a few days usually for the smoke to go away.

His permit required him to have fire tools on site, including a hose, and a fire watch through the burn’s duration, which was the homeowner, he said.

When Schaaf and others with permits can burn slash piles fluctuates depending on weather conditions, but he said it’s typically in the late fall when conditions are wetter.

For more information about burn permits through the Department of Natural Resources, visit

His permit also alerts PenCom, Clallam County’s 9-1-1 service, of the burn, he said.

PenCom officials reported they received at least 25 calls about the fire between 10 a.m.-noon on Nov. 10.