FIRE RESTRICTIONS: - Fire Season in effect as of June 1, 2018
FIRE RESTRICTIONS: - Regulated Closure in effect as of June 29, 2018 - Modified July 20, 2018
MH1 and MH4 IFPL: - IFPL 3 as of July 16, 2018

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Human Caused Fires on the Rise as Fire Danger Becomes Extreme in Central Oregon

[Central Oregon]  So far this year fires caused by lightning are significantly less than the ten year average in central Oregon.  After the last three challenging fire seasons which started early in the summer firefighters should feel relief, except human caused fires are on the rise both on ODF protected lands and on lands protected by our partners such as USFS, BLM and Rural Fire Districts.  August is typically the busiest part of fire season in Oregon and heading into the first weekend the forecast includes lightning.  Along with that forecast comes “Extreme” fire conditions, fuels are dry and temperatures are warm.  The increase in human caused fires adds to firefighter fatigue and drains resources which may be needed to suppress non-preventable fires.  As of July 25th the National Preparedness Level was raised to Level 3, which means significant wildfire activity is occurring in multiple Geographic Areas of the US and resources in a Geographic Area are likely not sufficient to support action on a large fire.  There are currently three large fires burning in Oregon, all human caused.  The potential for additional/multiple starts from thunderstorms this weekend combined with the fire activity from human starts over the last few weeks concerns fire managers as we enter the heart of fire season.
Being prepared for fire season is a common theme throughout the spring and summer months, focusing on creating defensible space for your home, fuel reduction activities, and creating evacuation plans.  Preventing the next wildfire is equally as important, maybe more so.  Visitors and residents share this responsibility, starting with adhering to fire prevention closures, which are in effect.  The following activities are restricted by fire prevention closures:  

·        Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
·        Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, debris burning, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas.  Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
·        Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.  Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one axe, one shovel, and one operational 8 ounce or larger fire extinguisher.  In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
·        Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and except for vehicle use by a landowner and employees of the landowner upon their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
·        Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle, except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one operational 2½ pound or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
·        Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·        Use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.  

In addition to these restrictions the use of tracer ammunition, exploding targets and sky lanterns is prohibited during fire season. 

Travis Medema, ODF’s Eastern Oregon Area Director is concerned about the trend, stating, “While the 2016 fire season in central and eastern Oregon has started slower than the previous three—human caused fires have dominated the landscape at a cost to all Oregonians.”  Those costs are more than just dollars spent fighting the fire, it is impacts to air and water quality, and increased exposure for firefighters.  Medema adds, “We are urging everyone to be safe, mindful of the fire danger, prepared for a wildfire in your community and partner with us to reduce the next human caused fire.” 

Please report all fires to your local 911 dispatch center immediately.

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