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Central Oregon fire chiefs boost danger level to ‘extreme’


Due to hot and dry weather conditions and the low amount of live fuel moisture, Bend Fire & Rescue and other area fire departments have increased the level of fire danger to “extreme,” officials said Thursday.

To make matters more risky, the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning from 3 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Saturday for 10-20 mph winds and low humidity, covering areas such as the east slopes of the Cascades, as well as the central mountains and the lower Columbia Basin.

Fires under extreme conditions begin and spread quickly, and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious for a large destructive wildfire to occur.

Fire danger signs throughout Central Oregon will reflect the change.

To prevent human caused fires, use extreme caution with sources of fire:

-ALL backyard debris burning, commercial burning or agricultural burning is PROHIBITED within City limits of Bend and Deschutes County Rural Fire District #2, and will strictly be enforced. A violation for open burning is punishable by a Class B civil infraction citation, with a fine amount of $522 in the city, and a Class A Infraction of $500 in the fire district.

-Warming fires, campfires and cooking fires are allowed in the Bend area, when used within the guidelines set forth in the Bend Fire Department Burning Regulations. These are available at any Bend fire station or on our web site

-Dispose of cigarettes in a non-combustible container, and don’t carelessly discard them outside in vegetation or decorative bark mulch. Brush fires can spread very rapidly in a short amount of time. Cigarette fires are one of the leading causes of fire in Bend.

-Keep lighters and matches away from children.

-BEFORE LIGHTING ANY FIRE (Campfires included). Check with your local fire department for forest protection office to determine specific closures and regulations related to fire. In Bend you can call 541-322-6335 for information on what is allowed and not allowed each day.

Other Fire Agency Requirements and Regulations: the closures and fines above are for Bend Fire & Rescue. If you live or are traveling to other areas, please contact the local fire agency before lighting any fire.

Be prepared for wildfire season: Be sure your home has a good defensible space built around it. Most homes lost in wildfires have been ignited by the virtual blizzard of embers. Residents are encouraged to prepare now by contacting 541 322-6309 for free property and home risk assessments.

Taking time in fall, winter and Spring to build your defensible space can reduce this risk during extreme fire danger times like these. Find more info on what you can do to prepare your home here:

Emergency notifications: Have you registered your cell phone with Deschutes County 911 so you will get emergency alerts for your home? Go to this website to find out more:

Fireworks: Fireworks have not been banned in Bend, but we ask that everyone use extreme caution when using fireworks. Fireworks are banned on all state and federal lands and many other areas in Central Oregon; contact your local fire department or forest protection office to determine specific closures and regulations related to fireworks.

The fireworks show on top of Pilot Butte on Saturday night is a great alternative to using fireworks in these hot and dry conditions. Causing a fire with fireworks can also result in a citation. Follow these basic steps to ensure a safe and fire free 4th of July:

–Only use fireworks that are LEGAL FOR USE IN OREGON
— Always read the directions of the firework you are about to use
— Set up a bucket of water or have a hose ready to douse any misfired fireworks or fires
— Soak used fireworks in water prior to disposing of them
— Only use fireworks outdoors, on a non-combustible surface keeping away from cars, buildings, and combustible vegetation
— Never alter fireworks or make your own
— Never pick up or try to re-light a “dud”
— Store fireworks, lighters and matches out of reach of children
— In Bend, it’s unlawful for a person under the age of 18 years to sell, keep or offer for sale, expose for sale, possess, use, explode or have exploded any fireworks within the city.
–Supervise the area where fireworks are being used and make sure everyone is kept a safe distance away from the fireworks
— Alcohol use can contribute to an even greater risk of injury or fire when combined with fireworks use, please be responsible.

As a reminder to all central Oregon residents, regulations may vary between fire protection jurisdictions. Please contact your local, state or federal fire agency for specific requirements and closures. Your cooperation during this extremely dangerous fire season is needed and we ask everyone to be very careful, especially now, as conditions are extremely dry.

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