BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Beginning Thursday and lasting through the weekend, firefighters on the Deschutes National Forest plan to ignite several burn piles outside of Sunriver, Crescent and Sisters.
If conditions remain favorable, firefighters will begin igniting about 54 acres of hand piles left over from tree removal operations between Lava Butte and Sunriver, on the east side of Highway 97.
Crews will likely take 1-2 days to complete these ignitions, and fire and smoke will be visible from the highway for several days, officials said. Smoke could drift onto the highway, but no closures are anticipated.
Firefighters near Crescent will also be burning piles near Highway 97 and Highway 58, which are also expected to remain open while ignitions are underway.
Additionally, firefighters in Sisters will continue burning piles around Melvin Butte this week.
If smoke drifts on to roads, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care. Once ignited, units are monitored by firefighters until they are declared out.
Piles may smolder, burn, and produce smoke for several days after ignition. While smoke may linger in the area, there is a real benefit to burning this type of vegetation. The piles are concentrations of leftover materials associated with previous vegetation management activities intended to remove hazardous fuels that can burn during summer wildfires.
The public’s health is important to the Forest Service. While significant preventive measures are taken, many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke, including severity and duration of smoke exposure and a person’s health. If individuals feel impacted by smoke, they should avoid outdoor physical exertion and remain indoors. If people experience serious health impacts from the smoke, they should contact their doctor.
For more information about smoke and health, visit the Oregon Health Authority recommendations through this link: http://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx#health
Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs smoke from prescribed fires (including pile burning), and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health.
Keep up with prescribed burns in Central Oregon by visiting: http://www.centraloregonfire.org.
For more information, visit the Deschutes website at www.fs.usda.gov/deschutes and follow us on twitter @CentralORFire.