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C.O. fire agencies issue plea to curb human-caused fires


With fire season reaching its peak hot August days and extremely dry fuels, the Bend Fire Department, Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District #2, Deschutes and Ochoco national forests, Prineville BLM and the Oregon Department of Forestry are sending a unified message: EVERY wildfire puts our firefighters, visitors, residents and properties in danger.

There are generally two causes of wildfire in Central Oregon: lightning and humans. This year, Central Oregon has seen very little lightning, and the majority of our wildfires have been started by humans.

Everyone in Central Oregon needs to make the choice to help protect themselves, their families and our community by ensuring their campfires are out every time someone is not there to watch it, by the proper disposal of cigarette butts, by parking in areas clear of vegetation, and in general use caution while working and recreating.

While Central Oregon didn’t reach EXTREME Fire Danger levels until late July, fuels (grasses, brush, trees, etc) have continued to dry out, and with temperatures in the 90s forecast for the next several days, we are encouraging the public to be aware of conditions on the ground.

In spite of normal snow levels last winter, our fuels are very dry right now, and every additional hot and dry day increases the probability of ignition and the potential for a new fire to spread rapidly.

Please remember that we can prevent human-caused wildfires! Fires can start anywhere – in the forests, the rangelands or even in our backyards and they can move quickly into our neighborhoods, close roads, burn homes and property and threaten lives. Use caution when you head outside, wherever you go, and let’s work together to prevent wildfire.

The state fire marshal issued a similar plea Thursday:

With Oregon’s hottest temperatures and driest conditions occurring throughout the next few days, Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker is urging all residents to take the utmost care and thorough caution to prevent wildfires.

“A majority of this year’s wildfires have been human caused,” said Walker. “This demonstrates that all of us need to take responsibility for protecting ourselves and our neighbors by preventing wildfires in these extreme conditions.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry has reported that since Jan. 1 , 2016, there have been 466 wildfires caused by humans. And due to the extreme temperatures, much of Oregon is under a burn ban.

Currently, Oregon has several active wildfires that have put people and homes at risk, and a number of families have received evacuation warnings.

“Our office is in constant communication with the Oregon Department of Forestry and our other wildland partners to assist with firefighting efforts if called upon,” said Walker.

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