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Illegal debris burns on the rise in Bend area


Debris burning is Central Oregon’s leading cause of human-caused wildfires, and the early warm weather has led to a surge in illegal open burning calls, officials said Wednesday as they offered tips to avoid problems.

Every spring firefighters respond to a series of escaped debris burns across Central Oregon, said Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering.

Since January 1, the Bend Fire Department has responded to 38 illegal open burning calls – a dramatic increase over the 24 incidents during the same time period in 2014, and 17 in 2013.

Of those burns, 11 were within the city limits, where burning is banned, Kettering said. The rest, in the fire district outside the city, “were illegal for various reasons – burning after dark, burning prohibited materials, burning left unattended, etc.,” Kettering said.

Just within the past month, Bend Fire Department has responded to 5 escaped burn calls.

Kettering said responses to these types of preventable calls take resources away from being available for true emergency incidents. This could result in an increased response time to a critical situation where seconds count.

She noted that open debris burning is prohibited within the city limits of Bend at all times. In areas within the boundaries of Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District #2, burning is allowed until the start of fire season, usually in May.

If you burn your yard debris here are some steps to lower your risk of an escaped fire:

A current copy of the Bend Fire Department burn regulations must be on site – you can pick one up at any fire station or download one online –
Prior to igniting, contact the Bend Fire Department burn information line at
541-322-6335 to ensure burning is open that day
(check with your local fire department if you are not covered by Bend Fire Department or Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District #2)
Ensure your fire is of legal size: no more than 6 feet across and 4 feet tall
Ensure you have plenty of clearance around the fire area: 50 feet clearance to structures including homes, sheds, barns and fences For burn barrels, 25 foot clearance is needed to structures and a heavy duty screen needs to be placed on top while burning Ensure there are no combustibles for 10 feet surrounding your fire area to prevent the fire from spreading on the ground Only burn during daylight hours, fully extinguish your fire at night All fires need to be attended at all times
Do not burn on windy days, if the wind picks up during the day, stop burning and fully extinguish your fire to ensure it does not spread out of your control
Have appropriate fire extinguishing tools on hand such as a shovel and a hose
When done burning ensure the fire area is cold to the touch, to ensure the fire is completely out
Do not burn prohibited materials: plastics, garbage, stumps, wire insulation, auto bodies, mobile homes, rubber, all petroleum based products, or any animal, food service, industrial, commercial and construction waste.
Commercial and agricultural burning requires a fire department permit . To have a permit issued call 541-322-6309 during normal business hours for an appointment to conduct a site inspection.

There are alternatives to debris burning! FireFree Spring Days are coming, beginning May 1.

Visit to learn more.

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