Important Update on Coronavirus and our Response
Good Morning!
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
OVERNIGHT: A chance of rain. Mostly cloudy. Low around 49, with temperatures rising to around 52 overnight. East southeast wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts less than a tenth of an inch possible.
TUESDAY: A slight chance of rain before 11am. Partly sunny. High near 63, with temperatures falling to around 61 in the afternoon. South southwest wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. New rainfall amounts less than a tenth of an inch possible.
TUESDAY NIGHT: Rain likely after 11pm. Mostly cloudy. Low around 49, with temperatures rising to around 53 overnight. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
WEDNESDAY: Rain before 5pm, then rain showers. Cloudy, with a high near 60. Southeast wind 7 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.
Forecast Updated: 9/22/2020 3:10 AM | Last Retrieved: 9/22/2020 4:18 AM
Calls To Date:
Total: 243 191 +27%
EMS: 186 (77%) 139 (73%) +34%
Fire: 46 (19%) 36 (19%) +28%
Other: 11 (5%) 16 (8%) -31%
Total in 2019: 342 (0.94 calls/day)
So far in 2020, we've had an average of 1.00 calls per day
As of Monday, August 31, 2020
Online Burn Permit Application
Pierce County
Updated 09/22/2020
Lewis County
Updated 09/22/2020
Pierce County
ALL outdoor burning including recreational and cooking fires (except a gas grill) during this Red Flag event is prohibited until the Red Flag event is over as determined by the National Weather Service
Effective 07/30/2020 08:00 AM
Lewis County
Effective 2:00 p.m. September 8, 2020, the Lewis County Fire Marshal will modify and upgrade burn restrictions to prohibit all outdoor burning. Recreational campfires are NOT allowed at this time.
Effective 09/08/2020 02:00 PM
DNR Pierce County
Outdoor burning, the use of charcoal briquettes, and prescribed burns are banned on all forest lands within the State of Washington under Department of Natural Resources fire protection through September 30, 2020
Effective 07/28/2020 12:01 AM
DNR Lewis County
Outdoor burning, the use of charcoal briquettes, and prescribed burns are banned on all forest lands within the State of Washington under Department of Natural Resources fire protection through September 30, 2020
Effective 07/28/2020 12:01 AM
Gifford Pinchot NF/USFS
Effective Sept 9, 2020: Closure Order 06-03-00-20-06 temporarily prohibits the building, maintaining, or using a fire, campfire or stove fire, including charcoal fire or pellet fire in GPNF.
Effective 09/09/2020 12:00 PM
Air Quality
No burn ban
Effective 08/23/2018 01:00 PM
More Info: (360) 569-2752
Updated: 09/09/2020 04:23 PM by SRB

Pierce County Fire District #23 sits at the base of Mount Rainier, one of the most hazardous active volcanoes in the world because of its proximity to large populations downslope of the volcano. Mount Rainier has a wide suite of hazards, but the most destructive and far reaching hazard that could potentially impact district residents are lahars.

Sunset Amphitheater and South Tahoma Glacier on the southwest face of Mount Rainier (USGS Photo)

The word lahar is an Indonesian term that describes a rapidly flowing mixture of water and rock fragments that rushes down the slopes of a volcano and its river valleys most often during volcanic eruptions. Lahars also form by the collapse of weakened rock on the side of a volcano. Except for their much larger size, lahars behave a lot like the small seasonal events in some streams at Mount Rainier, which usually do not leave the park boundary and are referred to as "debris flows".

Lahars can occur with or without a volcanic eruption

A moving lahar looks like a roiling slurry of wet concrete, and as it rushes downstream, the size, speed, and amount of material carried can constantly change. The initial flow may be relatively small, but a lahar may grow in volume as it entrains and incorporates anything in its path – rocks, soil, vegetation, and even buildings and bridges. The flowing slurry may consume additional water through melting of snow and ice or by engulfing river or lake water. Voluminous lahars commonly grow to more than 10 times their initial size as they move downslope. In steep areas, lahars can exceed speeds of 200 km/hr (120 mi/hr), but as they move farther away from a volcano and decelerate in lowland areas, they eventually begin to deposit some of the load and decrease in size.

Some areas within Pierce County Fire District #23 are also at risk from lahars formed by massive collapses of rock on the west side. These lahars can happen without volcanic eruptions. Lahar events are not predictable. The normal symptoms of a reawakening Mount Rainier, as reported by volcano monitoring devices, should provide us with ample warning for most lahars, but not all. That is why it is important to know actions to take during an actual event.

If you are on the floor of a valley that leads from a volcano and and you become aware of the following lahar clues:

Hearing loud roaring sounds from up valley...
Seeing a rapid rise in a river or stream, and/or...
Feeling the ground rumbling beneath your feet...


In the Nisqually River valley, rocky layers from the 2,200-year old National Lahar cover parts of the valley floor. The most recent lahar descended into the Nisqually valley around 500 years ago part of the Electron Mudflow. In 1947, a debris flow from Kautz Glacier buried the park road crossing with 28 feet of mud, and some mud was deposited in Alder Reservoir.

This USGS site has a lot more information about Lahars.

Additionally, the Pierce County Active Volcano website has a wealth of information about preparing for a volcanic emergency.

Volcano Evacuation Route Sign
Evacuation Route Map

The map below shows some of the designated evacuation routes (paths in the Blue Color) for District 23's coverage area in the event of a lahar from Mount Rainier. If you live in the district, please be familiar with the route nearest you as well as the general routes for the entire area.

Keep a lookout for the blue Volcano Evacuation Route Signs shown to the right for possible evacuation routes while you travel around the Mount Rainier area. These signs direct you to safe locations if a geologic event were to occur.

Lahar Siren in Ashford
Lahar Sirens

All Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) Sirens are one aspect of that pre-planned emergency response in Pierce County. When imminent danger threatens, the outdoor sirens will be activated. Citizens will be advised to evacuate the valley floor and head to higher ground. The sirens are made for outdoor warning and used to alert residents of the need to evacuate due to a lahar or other volcanic event. The outdoor sirens are tested at noon on the first Monday of every month. The outdoor sirens wail for approximately five minutes during the testing. During a real event, the outdoor sirens will continuously wail until the batteries die or they are destroyed.

There are currently three AHAB Sirens within District 23 boundaries: One each in the geographic areas of Alder, Ashford and Elbe. Their locations are shown on the evacuation map above and a photo of the Ashford siren is shown to the right.

Current Cascade Volcano Hazard Status

As of Friday, September 18, 2020, 8:39 AM PDT (Friday, September 18, 2020, 15:39 UTC)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

Activity Update: All volcanoes in the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington are at normal background levels of activity. These include Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams in Washington State; and Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters, Newberry, and Crater Lake in Oregon.

Recent Observations: Earthquakes were located at Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens over the last week, consistent with normal background seismicity. Field crews worked at Mount Rainier this week to perform maintenance on an existing monitoring station.

Click for More Information...

More Information

This page only provides a limited amount of information about lahars and geologic hazards in our district. To learn more, please visit the following pages to gain an understanding about Lahars, evacuation routes, and how to safely live next to an active volcano: