Fire Danger On The Rise

June 21, 2017

Contact:  Tom Fields (503) 945-7440  tom.fields@oregon.gov

FIRE DANGER ON THE RISE

While the southwest is experiencing a record-breaking heatwave, Oregon is also in store for elevated temperatures heading into the weekend. Consequently, summer heat and dry landscapes increase the risk of wildfires. While some parts of the state have declared fire season to be in effect, fire officials would like to remind all Oregonians to heed caution and to be aware of fire danger when working or recreating outdoors.

“Given the right conditions, a fire can start almost any time of year,” says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “And while we’ve been blessed with cooler conditions thus far, fire activity is beginning to pick up as we head into the heart of fire season.”

More than 125 fires have burned 170 acres of forest and grasslands under ODF’s protection in 2017. The lion’s share (57 fires and 67 acres) have resulted from debris burning while another 14 were caused by people recreating (campfires, fireworks, target shooting).

If you’re planning a camping trip this weekend, take extra steps to prevent a catastrophe. Keep your vehicles on good roads and don’t idle over dry grass. Campgrounds are best for campfires. If campfires are allowed outside campgrounds, choose your location wisely, in a clear area away from grass, brush and overhanging trees. Keep your campfire contained and small by surrounding it with rocks. Have water and a shovel close by at all times and put the fire completely out before leaving.

If instead, you’re planning on cleaning up the property this weekend, think twice before burning yard debris. Check with your local ODF/protective association office or fire department for current restrictions. If burning is allowed, refrain from doing so on windy days. Keep burn piles small and manageable, feeding from larger piles. Scratch a fire trail down to mineral soil around the pile and have a shovel and charged garden hose at the ready. Never leave the pile unattended and put the fire completely out when finished. Finally, go back over the next several weeks and double check the pile for heat and smoke. Burn piles can retain heat for several weeks and rekindle under warm, windy conditions.

For more information on fire restrictions and closures in your area, visit www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/restrictions or call your local ODF office.