THURSDAY: King County Town Hall for North Highline (updated!)

October 12th, 2020 at 12:30 am Posted in King County, White Center news | 4 Comments »

12:30 AM: It was announced so long ago, you might have forgotten about it – but it’s almost here – the next King County Town Hall for White Center and the rest of North Highline. It’s planned for this Thursday, October 15th, 7 pm, online. You can connect via Zoom or dial in via 253-215-8782. Meeting ID: 965 1297 0751. (If you want an idea of what the meeting will be like, here’s the slide deck from the one held for Fairwood last month.)

ADDED 10:34 AM: We’re told the county is working on NEW connection information, so we’ve crossed out the link above, and will add the new link/info when we get it.

ADDED TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Here’s the viewing/listening info:

Users can join via Zoom at https://kingcounty.zoom.us/j/95932613768 (case-sensitive passcode is VOTE2020!).

They can also join via phone by calling 253-215-8782 and providing the meeting ID number: 959 3261 3768 (passcode 900924959).

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Election in the spotlight as public-safety leaders visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first online meeting

October 11th, 2020 at 2:20 am Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news | 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council has finally arrived in the world of online meetings, and the first one, this past Thursday night, was as info-packed as their in-person meetings have historically been.

Though this one spotlighted public safety, with leaders from the North Highline Fire District and King County Sheriff’s Office, the real theme was the November 3rd election, with both departments having a lot at stake in ballot measures on which you will be voting.

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT BENEFIT CHARGE: Assistant chief Ray Pettigrew opened by noting he has been with affiliated Fire District 2 for 35 years, and explained how the two districts consolidated at the start of last year after many years of cooperation.

He talked about the “benefit charge” changing the way NHFD is funded, starting six years ago after its 2014 passage, to take care of the problem with tax-exempt properties not contributing to the district funding. And he listed everything it’s enabled, as voters get ready to decide whether to renew it for 10 years. The charge “spread the cost out, made it more equitable,” Pettigrew explained, and led to a small decrease in what homeowners pay. The charge enabled the consolidation, and also led to a rating agency upgrading the department’s rating, which is good news for property owners’ insurance rates – the rating is now a 3 (1 is the best). The department also was able to buy two new fire engines that are based at Station 18. “We’re a very busy fire department,” with 11,000+ calls last year, he said, and the engines that were replaced had a lot of miles on them.

The stable funding also has enabled them to station an aid car at Station 18 most days – “it increases our ability to answer emergency calls by almost 50 percent.” They’ve upgraded air packs, and added a public educator, too. Also: A local firefighter is helping with the COVID-19 testing area that has been opened in Tukwila; Pettigrew said they were looking for other sites, maybe even White Center, but couldn’t find an available property. King County is reimbursing them for the firefighter’s work. Last but not least, they’re working on an “FD CARES” response unit – “usually an SUV” with a firefighter and nurse or social worker – to answer certain kinds of “low-acuity calls and works with the person to address their needs in a more appropriate manner.” King County Public Health has provided some funding for this. They’re hoping to have the unit up and running early next year. “We think we’ve been very good stewards of your tax dollars,” summarized Pettigrew, pitching for the renewal.

What if it’s not approved? asked NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. Reply: The property tax rate would go back up, and the FD would have to re-evaluate what it’s doing. What’s the rate and is it different from the last one? It’s been fairly consistent and is expected to continue that way – “approximately $1.50 per thousand” (dollars of property valuation).

KING COUNTY SHERIFF: KCSO sent several reps to the meeting, starting with the sheriff herself, Mitzi Johanknecht.

She talked about the every-decade county-charter-amending process. Two amendments on the November 3rd ballot would affect KCSO: Amendment #5, which would change the sheriff back to an appointed, rather than elected, position, more than 20 years after the previous change. She’s the fifth elected sheriff, in her first term, which started in early 2018. If Amendment #5 passes, the County Executive would appoint the sheriff, with County Council approval. Then the council put Amendment #6 on the ballot – “having an elected sheriff, but with conditions … that the King County Council would create an ordinance … that determines the roles and responsibilities of the sheriff.” Currently, state laws regulates sheriffs’ roles.

Dobkin mentioned hearing County Executive Dow Constantine talk about the measure on a podcast and say that since people who aren’t in the sheriff’s jurisdiction get to vote for them, changing the law made more sense. Johanknecht noted that other countywide officials are voted on by all county voters too. But, she noted, KCSO does have countywide responsibilities – Metro and Sound Transit policing, among other things. “I also think it’s important that if you’re voting for a sheriff, the sheriff should have a standalone opportunity to represent you.”

If it went to an appointed position, might that lead to cuts/changes? Johanknecht said the COVID-19 crunch has already required some cuts, so she cut some vacant positions, “the least amount of FTEs possible” so it wouldn’t harm 911 response and crime-solving. NHUAC’s Liz Giba said she’d heard the marijuana-tax money had been pulled from KCSO – was that true? The sheriff said that’s a complicated issue but it’s not resulting in any cuts/changes. She also noted that 58 percent of the KCSO budget is revenue-backed – maybe the only county agency that brings in this much money helping cover its budget.

What sort of anti-racism reforms has KCSO been working on? The sheriff said reform is one of the major things she ran to accomplish. She says her deputies now have “less-lethal tools” and that they’ve developed new policies for the critical-incident review board, plus they’ve been training in de-escalation and crisis intervention – 48 hours of the latter, “years ahead of what the state is going to demand.” They’ve also gone through implicit-bias training, and are wrapping up investigations of social-media posts that drew attention and concern. She said the issue has made her job “the most important thing I’ll ever do in my life.”

The budget includes full funding for the KCSO storefront locations, including White Center, she said, in response to a question.

She was followed by Manny Apostol, the new community-engagement specialist for KCSO, a longtime department employee. Listening to communities is his task – here are the slides outlining what he’ll do:

He was asked how he’s working on rebuilding trust with Southeast Asian communities in the wake of the Tommy Le killing. He said he’s been reaching out to groups.

STOREFRONT DEPUTY BILL KENNAMER: He talked about a problem house in the 1800 block of SW 98th that’s finally been cleared out – the eviction moratorium pushed the handling of the situation back several months. They were evicted “due to the criminal activity associated with the house,” he said. “That was the worst house in White Center right now,” he said. Among other things, one of the people associated with the house “was a murder suspect with a $2 million warrant.” Kennamer said one neighbor told him he’s had the first night in a long time that he wasn’t awakened by some trouble at that house. But there are others, it was noted.

Other wide-ranging discussion included the murals on many businesses being a graffiti-vandalism deterrent.

Dobkin also mentioned traffic issues diverting off Roxbury, which in turn is a lot busier because of the West Seattle Bridge closure. Kennamer agreed, “The traffic is absolutely ridiculous” and “going to be frustrating for a very long time.” Dobkin said it’s a safety issue with people “flying through our streets” on streets without sidewalks. Kennamer said he’d reach out to Roads – maybe a stop sign on 106th could help, “so they can’t pick up so much speed.” He also advised “don’t walk with your back to traffic.”

What about mail theft? Kennamer was asked. “If you see it, call us quick, because they’re gone quick.” Locking mailboxes can help but some people even use saws to cut them down.

MAJOR JEFF FLOHR: He’s now the KCSO Southwest Precinct commander. The area always has at least two deputies on duty, he said. He started out talking about the “use of force” dashboard, which he said would show “how rarely we use force.”

His main topic: White Center is one of the areas where KCSO is about to run a pilot camera program – in-car and body-worn. 10 deputies will be using the cameras for 90 days, working in different areas.

He went over the functions and policies they’ll be testing.

At the end, they’ll evaluate and document what they learned, “identify the features we want if funding is provided for full implementation” – right now, it’s NOT budgeted.

Flohr also said they’re “ready to go” with the LEAD program in White Center/North Highline, just waiting for some documentation with a service provider to be finalized. Asked to refresh memories, he gave an example – say deputies respond to a mentally ill shoplifter, they deal with a team of people trying to get that person help, “trying to keep people out of jail and get them the services they need … it’s exactly what the communities have been asking for, they just don’t know that we’ve been doing it.”

CHIEF JESSE ANDERSON: He talked about “8 can’t wait” policy changes: No chokeholds unless it’s a force-type situation “last resort,” de-escalation, requiring warning before shooting, duty to intervene, no shooting at moving vehicles (unless deputies are trapped), among other things.

Regarding policing reform, he acknowledged that many of their calls are more “quality of life issues” than crimes, but he also said staffing is at the lowest level it could be while still allowing them to respond to calls.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC plans to continue via Zoom for the foreseeable future – the meetings are usually first Thursdays at 7 pm – watch nhuac.org for updates. Next time, the North Highline Sub-Area Plan will be a spotlighted topic.

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FOOD/DRINK: Anju closing temporarily after Sunday

October 10th, 2020 at 7:28 pm Posted in Beverages, Businesses, Food, White Center news | Comments Off on FOOD/DRINK: Anju closing temporarily after Sunday

Tomorrow’s your last chance for a while to enjoy what White Center’s bar/eatery Anju offers:

Anju is at 9641 15th SW.

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THURSDAY: Public safety spotlighted @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 6th, 2020 at 9:56 am Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news | 4 Comments »

As previously mentioned, the first pandemic-era North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is set for this Thursday, October 8th, online. Here’s the announcement with full details:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7 pm

How? (Here’s the link)
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

Dial-in: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

NHUAC Is Baaaack!!! NHUAC’s first meeting since February will be held Thursday, October 8th at 7 pm. It is going to be a virtual meeting via Zoom so it will be different, but the goal will be the same: To provide an opportunity to be informed, involved, and heard about issues affecting North Highline.

COVID-19 has changed our lives. We have been staying home to stay safe. Meanwhile, what has been happening in White Center, Top Hat, Boulevard Park, other North Highline neighborhoods? What is about to happen? To help us catch up and prepare, NHUAC’s October 8th meeting will focus on our first responders.

Have you ever called 911 because of a fire or medical emergency? If so, you know how important the North Highline Fire District is to our community. Assistant Chief Ray Pettigrew will discuss NHFD and ballot measure NHFD Proposition No. 1 to continue the Benefit Charge.

The climate around policing has gotten intense. King County’s response requires our serious consideration. If Charter Amendment No. 5 passes, voters will give up their right to vote for Sheriff. According to the King County Elections website, “The next sheriff would be appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the county council.” Charter Amendment No. 6 would transfer much of the Sheriff’s control over KCSO to the King County Executive (currently Dow Constantine) and the King County Council.

Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht will discuss these issues and others specific to North Highline. We will also be joined by Chief Jesse Anderson, who recently left Precinct 4 to become head of the Patrol Operations Division. Major Jeffrey Flohr, Precinct 4’s new Commander; Manny Apostol, KCSO’s new Community Engagement Specialist; and last, but certainly not least, Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join us.

Knowledge is power.

Do not miss this chance to learn and help make North Highline a safer place!

October 8, 2020 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor

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FOLLOWUP: About the Viva Mexico fire

October 5th, 2020 at 9:04 pm Posted in Fire, Restaurants, White Center news | Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: About the Viva Mexico fire

(WCN photo, last Tuesday)

We finally have followup information on last week’s fire at the Viva Mexico restaurant in White Center. As we surmised at the scene last night, it was a small fire, according to a spokesperson for the >North Highline Fire District. It started in the kitchen; when crews arrived just after 11 pm, black smoke was coming from inside, and they found the fire on a cooktop. It had melted some plastic that dripped onto a floor mat, in turn igniting a fire on that mat. But the firefighters were able to extinguish it with a small amount of water. Along with North Highline and Burien apparatus, they were assisted by Tukwila Ladder 354.

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North Highline anti-displacement workshops announced

October 1st, 2020 at 12:00 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | Comments Off on North Highline anti-displacement workshops announced

Announced today by King County:

In addition to the North Highline Subarea Plan and Community Needs List, this year the King County Department of Local Services is working with the Department of Community and Human Services on the Anti-Displacement Strategies Report. The purpose of this Report is to study concrete actions that King County can take to develop and retain affordable housing in both Skyway-West Hill and North Highline.

Over the next few months King County will host three virtual workshops to share knowledge about the different anti-displacement strategies being explored in the Report and to provide an opportunity for community members to share their experiences and opinions on these topics:

Workshop 1 (Saturday, October 17th, 10 am-12:30 pm): Strategies to Increase Affordable Homeownership

Strategies to be discussed include community land trusts, rent-to-own and down payment assistance programs, and property tax exemption opportunities.

Workshop 2 (Saturday, November 7th, 10 am-12:30 pm): Strategies to Mitigate Displacement when Development Happens

Strategies to be discussed include community preference and right to return policies, community benefit agreements, relocation assistance, and local and inclusionary employment prioritization.

Workshop 3 (Saturday, December 5th, 10 am-12:30 pm): Strategies for Preservation and Creation of Affordable Housing

Strategies to be discussed include inclusionary zoning, manufactured housing community preservation, “no net loss,” and redevelopment assistance programs.

All workshops will be held on Zoom. Registration is free and simultaneous translation will be available in Spanish, Somali, and Vietnamese.

Please register for one or all of the workshops here for English, Spanish, Somali, or Vietnamese.

For more information please visit the project website at www.publicinput.com/anti-displacement.

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UPDATE: Fire callout at Viva Mexico

September 29th, 2020 at 11:25 pm Posted in Fire, Traffic, White Center news | 4 Comments »

11:25 PM: 16th SW is closed at SW 106th because of a fire callout at Viva Mexico restaurant. On our way to find out more.

(WCN photo)

12:10 AM: When we got there, what had been a huge callout – more than 15 units initially – was down to just a few. No sign of smoke or flames, or exterior damage, so not a major fire. We will seek more followup info later today.

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REMINDER: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets next week, not this week

September 29th, 2020 at 4:25 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, Online, White Center news | Comments Off on REMINDER: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets next week, not this week

A reminder from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

2020 has been a year of many challenges and the creation of many new norms. With that said, NHUAC will not be holding a meeting on the first Thursday of October, and instead will be holding the meeting on the second Thursday, October 8th.

With continued Social Distancing recommendations, the meeting will be held via Zoom. You will also have the option of calling in on your phone. We will send out info on how to join the meeting, as well as info on our guest speakers as we get closer to the meeting date.

Please plan on joining us as we will be discussing issues that are very important to the future of our North Highline Community.

So fire up your computers and get ready to Zoom.

Community Matters
Stay Informed, Stay Involved, Be Heard

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Salvadorean Bakery team spotlighted by Seattle’s new hockey team

September 28th, 2020 at 11:17 pm Posted in Businesses, Food, White Center news | 1 Comment »

White Center’s own Salvadorean Bakery has turned up in an unexpected place – featured on the website of Seattle’s new professional-hockey team, the Kraken. Sisters Ana Castro and Aminta Elgin tell their story of 25 sweet years baking and cooking in White Center, and, most recently, battling through the rocky economic times brought by the pandemic. If you’ve visited, you’ve seen their beautiful cakes – and in the story, they even show off one with a Kraken logo!

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CRIME: Robbery investigation at 15th/Roxbury

September 25th, 2020 at 10:32 pm Posted in Crime, White Center news | Comments Off on CRIME: Robbery investigation at 15th/Roxbury

Deputies are headed right now to the Texaco station/mini-mart at 15th/Roxbury for a reported robbery. The emergency-radio dispatcher has advised deputies that the robber implied he had a gun, though none was seen. He left on a bicycle, westbound. Initial description: “Unknown race male, 30s, 5’5″, thin, hood and mask.” If you have any information, call 911.

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CRIME: What closed White Center Starbucks for the day

September 24th, 2020 at 6:40 pm Posted in Crime, White Center news | Comments Off on CRIME: What closed White Center Starbucks for the day

Thanks for the tip. The White Center Starbucks had an unscheduled closure today. A reader told us the store was burglarized and that resulted in a broken window. We just talked with the company and they confirm the staff found a broken window upon arrival this morning, and decided to close for the day, but will reopen tomorrow.The broken window was on the drive-thru side. No other details on the crime so far.

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Short-lived White Center power outage

September 24th, 2020 at 1:06 am Posted in Utilities, White Center news | Comments Off on Short-lived White Center power outage

In case you slept right through it, White Center did lose power for a few minutes early today, possibly related to a West Seattle outage that was already partly over by then. Here’s a screengrab of the Seattle City Light outage map during the short-lived outage:

No word on the cause so far, but it’s been a blustery night.

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FYI: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council changes October meeting date

September 22nd, 2020 at 1:25 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, Online, White Center news | Comments Off on FYI: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council changes October meeting date

Set your calendar for October 8th instead of 1st – the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council has moved its meeting date back a week. Connection/teleconferencing details to come – watch nhuac.org.

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County budget preview includes White Center proposals

September 16th, 2020 at 10:51 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | 1 Comment »

King County Executive Dow Constantine presents his next proposed budget on Tuesday, and his office released a preview today. This preview was focused on criminal-legal system reform as well as anti-racism work; it includes two mentions of White Center:

• Invest $750,000 to co-create and implement alternative to policing in urban unincorporated King County

The Executive Office will partner with the King County Sheriff’s Office and community members to co-create and implement a new community-driven safety model in urban unincorporated areas such as White Center, Skyway and East Renton. This may involve hiring behavioral health professionals to partner with Sheriff’s Office Deputies and divert cases from criminal courts and jails. The goal is to design the program in 2021 and implement no later than 2022.

• Invest in community engagement

The 2021-2022 Proposed Budget makes investments to change the County’s approach to working with community to support co-creation and the long-term success of community-based organizations. This includes creating a participatory budgeting effort to determine how to invest $10 million in new capital projects in the urban unincorporated areas of Skyway, White Center, Fairwood, East Federal Way, and East Renton.

While not singling out WC by name, here’s a mention of unincorporated areas:

• Divest $4.6 million of marijuana tax revenue

Executive Constantine’s proposed budget shifts $4.6 million of marijuana excise tax revenue from law enforcement to community-based programs. This represents all the money received by King County from retail marijuana sales. $2.8 million would be devoted to a program to help individuals vacate convictions of marijuana-related offenses that are no longer illegal, and settle unpaid court fines, fees, and restitution that could lead to incarceration. Black communities have historically been disproportionately harmed by our nation’s “war on drugs,” and this begins to undo some of that harm. $1.35 million would be shifted to the Department of Local Services for programs co-created with residents in the unincorporated area, including youth marijuana prevention and employment programs. The remaining $450,000 would be used to create and support a community-centered advisory body that would determine how to spend marijuana taxes in future years.

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FLOWERS! Fundraiser to help farmers

September 16th, 2020 at 11:37 am Posted in How to Help, White Center news | Comments Off on FLOWERS! Fundraiser to help farmers

(Also posted on our partner site West Seattle Blog)

Beautiful flowers like those don’t just appear at local markets. They are grown on small farms. And like so many, the farmers have been hard-hit in these times. So they’re having a flower fundraiser, with online orders through tomorrow, and a Saturday pickup spot in White Center. Explains Cynthia Yongvang of the Hmong Association of Washington, who emailed to let us know abut this: “Our fundraiser would benefit both the Hmong flower farmers who are struggling financially during this pandemic and also our 4 very small communities (Mien, Hmong, Khmu, and Lao) in the Puget Sound area by providing rental-assistance relief to families in need so that they won’t be displaced during this time.” The order form is here, and it explains, “This weekend, based on the farmers’ selection of flowers, the mix bouquets will include sunflowers, dahlias, lilies, phlox, statice , snapdragons, gladiolus and greenery for $25, with $10 of every bouquet going to our rental assistance program.” Orders will be accepted until 3 pm tomorrow (Thursday, September 17th), with pickup options (also listed on the order form) including 9 am-noon Saturday in White Center.

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VIDEO: Highline Public Schools’ historic start

September 12th, 2020 at 10:43 pm Posted in Highline School District, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off on VIDEO: Highline Public Schools’ historic start

Regardless of how it ends, the 2020-2021 school year’s start for Highline Public Schools made history, with thousands of students and teachers connecting online. The district made this video featuring dozens of scenes from Day 1.

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NEED TESTING? Khmer Health Board event at Evergreen High School next weekend

September 11th, 2020 at 8:32 pm Posted in Coronavirus, Evergreen High School, Health, White Center news | Comments Off on NEED TESTING? Khmer Health Board event at Evergreen High School next weekend

From the WCN inbox:

The Khmer Health Board is organizing a COVID-19 Test Event on Saturday, September 19th from 9 AM – 3 PM at Evergreen High School, 830 SW 116th St.

In-person Khmer translators will be available to assist and insurance is not required for testing. Event is first come, first served. Giveaway items (health and safety supplies, Khmer groceries, etc.) are available until supplies last.

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TRAFFIC & TRANSIT ALERT: Roundabout work ahead

September 9th, 2020 at 11:34 pm Posted in Metro, Traffic, White Center news | Comments Off on TRAFFIC & TRANSIT ALERT: Roundabout work ahead

From King County Roads:

Starting at 7 a.m. Friday, September 11 until 11:59 p.m. Saturday, September 12, street parking will be temporarily prohibited in the following White Center locations:

• North side of SW 100th Street between 4th Avenue SW and 8th Avenue SW

• North and south sides of SW 106th Street for 100-feet east of 8th Avenue SW and first 100 feet east of 4th Avenue SW

The parking restriction is needed to allow King County Metro to reroute buses during roundabout painting work at the intersection of 8th Avenue SW and SW 102nd Street.

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BURN BAN: Stage 2 for King County

September 8th, 2020 at 12:45 pm Posted in Environment, Weather, White Center news | Comments Off on BURN BAN: Stage 2 for King County

With all that wildfire smoke polluting the air, and hot, dry weather continuing, here’s something else to heed:

King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts has issued a Stage 2 burn ban for King County, which prohibits all outdoor recreational fires. Outdoor cooking and heating appliances are limited to approved manufactured gas and charcoal units only.

The Stage 2 burn ban goes into effect immediately for King County, which was already in a Stage 1 burn ban. Today’s announcement comes after the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag fire danger warning for Northwest Washington that will last through Wednesday of this week.

Abnormally high temperatures and gusty winds, along with low humidity, have prompted both warnings. Large fires in Eastern Washington and Oregon have also contributed to reduced air quality in the Puget Sound region.

During a Stage 2 burn ban, any outdoor fire such as a backyard fire pit or campfire using chopped firewood or charcoal is prohibited. Under the ban, any person with a recreational fire who fails to take immediate action to extinguish or otherwise discontinue such burning when ordered or notified to do so can be charged with, up to and including, a misdemeanor.

Manufactured portable outdoor devices are allowed, including barbeques and patio warmers that are used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Approved fuel devices – including charcoal, natural gas or propane gas – are also allowed.

Ricketts says if residents must smoke, they should exercise extreme caution with their ashes or when they’re extinguishing cigarettes. The county asks residents to be diligent and respectful of their neighbors, and to remember this is a demanding time for first responders.

“The conditions – high temperatures, wind, low humidity – mean everyone should be on high alert about fire safety,” Ricketts said. “Things can become dangerous – and tragic – extremely fast with these conditions. Everyone should be careful.”

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Power outage along Myers Way

September 7th, 2020 at 6:49 pm Posted in Utilities, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Thanks for the tip! 55 Seattle City Light customers have been without power since just after 4:30 pm. The utility has not yet said what caused it but says workers have been dispatched.

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