OLYMPIA — With wildfires ravaging Central Washington on Labor Day, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that it is closing all of the lands it manages east of the Cascades due to high fire danger. 

The closure will last through at least Friday, with the potential to get extended depending on how the week progresses.

“We had a historic fire event yesterday — 58 new wildfire stats and nine large fires on the landscape, compounded by hurricane-level winds,” Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said Tuesday in a press release. “That dangerous combination led to smoke-filled skies and low visibility, which grounded our aircraft and limited our ability to fight the fire from the air. 

“The destruction we have seen is unimaginable.”

With no lighting yesterday, or in the forecast for the next few days, DNR said the vast majority of wildfires the agency is responding to are presumed to be human-caused.

“Whenever we close recreation lands to the public, our only motivation is safety,” Franz said. “With more than 300,000 acres burning since Monday, this remains a volatile and dangerous situation. Because of the scale of these fires, our state’s resources are fully deployed. We are holding nothing back. But that means we must take every possible precaution to prevent new fires from being started.”

Timber harvest activities on DNR-managed lands have also been shut down through Thursday morning.