Skip to Content

ODF forester: C.O. wildfire season arrives early


Drying conditions have prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District to declare the start of wildfire season effective next Monday morning, nearly a week earlier than last year and three weeks earlier than what is traditionally considered normal.

The current warm, dry weather led District Forester George Ponte to make the call on Friday.

“Everyone is aware of the drought conditions in and around Central Oregon,” Ponte said. “The snowpack from this winter is well below average in many areas, and several counties within the Central Oregon District have declared drought emergencies.”

“Precipitation over the last 90 days has been near or below average, and warm, dry weather is expected to continue,” Ponte added. “As a result, we are quickly approaching high fire danger levels, when a fire that starts can get big very quickly. The fire season declaration is intended to alert people to these conditions and get them thinking about fire prevention.”

The declaration of fire season imposes certain restrictions on the public and people working in the forests.

–The use of fireworks, exploding targets, tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge at its base is prohibited.

–Forest operators are required to have firefighting equipment on site.

–Open burning is prohibited without a permit issued by ODF or a local fire department.

However, most fire departments have suspended or will soon suspend issuing such permits. (C. Oregon fire chiefs have declared an end to outdoor burning as of midnight Sunday, June 15th.)

Homeowners considering burning yard waste must check with their local fire department about current burning restrictions prior to lighting any fires.

Wildfire safety restrictions can change quickly during the season and vary from one jurisdiction to another.

Recreationists planning to visit national forests, Bureau of Land Management or other federal lands are advised to check with those federal offices for information on current restrictions.

“The professionals that forecast fire conditions anticipate higher than normal potential for large, destructive wildfires, not only in Oregon but in much of the West,” Ponte said.

“The number of fires we get is largely a factor of how much lightning there is during fire season. But any fire that starts, whether caused by lightning or human activities, will have potential to become a large and destructive one.”

In 2013, the district declared fire season on June 14 th.

ODF’s Central Oregon District provides wildfire protection on 2.2 million acres of private and public forest and rangeland in 10 counties (Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jefferson, Morrow, Wasco and Wheeler) in the north-central portion of Oregon. Offices are located in Prineville, Sisters, John Day, The Dalles and Fossil.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content