Oregon Department of Forestry
The recent rainfall that fell across Oregon in variable amounts has fire officials concerned.
“Now is not the time for folks to let their guard down,” says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “We’re still in the midst of three consecutive fire seasons that have wreaked havoc in all four corners of the state. And while the small amount of rain was a welcome relief, we are far from putting this fire season to bed.”
For the most part, the significant rainfall since August 24 landed along the Oregon coast and Willamette Valley. The north Cascades also received in excess of an inch of rain while the rest of the state remained fairly dry. Fuels receptive to sparks and embers remain abnormally dry and are still prone to ignite and carry fire with ease. Add to the mix the region’s early fall east winds that blow over the Cascades like California’s Santa Anna winds, and the threat doubles. The Scoggins Creek, Yellow Point and Lost Hubcap fires from 2014 are prime examples of September fires that grew out of control, threatened communities, and cost millions of dollars to put out. Broken down, the Scoggins Creek Fire burned 211 acres and cost $1.9 million; Yellow Point burned 789 acres and cost $5.6 million; and Lost Hubcap burned 2,712 acres and cost $3.1 million.
“The bottom line,” according to Fields, “is that we still need to exercise caution and follow fire restrictions in effect when working or recreating in wildland areas.”
Campfires remain prohibited on private and public lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry as well as all state parks. The exception is developed and approved campgrounds in some areas.
“Your best bet is to know before you go. Check with the local authority before heading out.” Fields says another tool is ODF’s fire restrictions interactive map on the web at http://www.oregon.gov/odf/pages/fire/precautionlevelMap.aspx.
While many corporate private lands remain closed due to the continued fire danger, hunting season is still open. Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts must have landowner permission before entering and follow all public fire use restrictions, such as no smoking or off-road driving.
Outdoor debris burning also remains prohibited. Other fire-starting activities currently restricted include the use of power equipment such as chainsaws and lawn mowers cutting dry grass. Those activities can only be done early in the day when fire danger is at its lowest.