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Deschutes County fire chiefs to close outdoor burning April 10


Meanwhile, state agencies urge residents to refrain from burning

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County fire chiefs are temporarily closing outdoor burning as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Outdoor burning will close at sunset on Friday, April 10.

Crook and Jefferson County burning regulations remain unchanged, residents can check with their local jurisdictions.

Outdoor burning restrictions may be lifted if impacts of the COVID-19 virus subside before fire season begins.

The decision to temporarily close outdoor burning was not easy for local fire officials, they said. The health benefits for vulnerable populations were considered, along with the need to encourage people to reduce combustible vegetation around their homes.

At the end of the day, the health and safety of Deschutes County residents was determined to be the most important consideration at this time. Fire chiefs consulted with officials at the Deschutes County Emergency Operations Center, as well as regional wildfire protection agencies, including the Oregon Department of Forestry, before making the final decision.

Deschutes County Fire Defense Board Chief Mike Supkis said, “We are preparing for a potential increase in emergency response activity in the coming weeks. We want to ensure we have enough firefighter-paramedics available to care for residents who become sick.”

Most Deschutes County fire departments also provide ambulance transport services. If firefighter paramedics are responding to burning complaints or escaped controlled burns, responses to medical emergencies could be slowed.

Chief Supkis encourages Deschutes County residents to contact their local fire department if they have any questions about the closure.


SALEM, Ore. --  In response to the "Stay Home, Save Lives" Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus, a coalition of Oregon state agencies are asking Oregonians to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office (OSFM), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recognize that many Oregonians use fire as a necessary tool to manage their lands, including industrial forest landowners, farmers, small woodland owners, and rural residents. However, it’s important to weigh possible effects on the wider community before choosing to burn. Please be a good neighbor. Smoke from fires during the current pandemic may result in the following negative consequences for the public and first responders:

  • Smoke inhalation can cause upper respiratory symptoms, which could be incorrectly attributed to COVID-19, leading to unnecessary testing or self-isolation.
  • Exposure to smoke and other forms of air pollution can increase the risk of contracting infectious respiratory disease such as COVID-19, increase the severity of existing respiratory infections, and worsen underlying chronic respiratory conditions.
  • There is a severe shortage of personal protective equipment to reduce smoke exposure at this time.
  • First responders and other emergency services are operating at a reduced capacity and have limited resources to respond to out-of-control burns.

COVID-19 affects the respiratory system. Fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the most common symptoms. While some people with COVID-19 are hospitalized, most patients recover at home, where smoke from a nearby outdoor burn could worsen their condition. To avoid additional health impacts, all people in Oregon are asked to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning activities until further notice.

Burning that can be delayed includes:

  • Debris burning around one’s property
  • Burn barrels
  • Industrial burning
  • Slash and forest burning
  • Agricultural burning that would impact neighbors and can be delayed

Local officials may already have prohibited outdoor burning in your area. If you must conduct outdoor burning, please first check with your local fire agency to see if outdoor burning is still allowed. If it is, please follow best burn practices, which can be found on the website of the Office of the State Fire Marshall.

DEQ, ODF, OSFM, and ODA encourage the public to use the following alternatives to burning when available:

  • Recycle paper products when possible
  • Compost or chip yard debris on site
  • Haul to a yard debris composting or recycling site
  • Reuse old lumber

For more information, visit:




OHA COVID-19 website -

This is a rapidly evolving situation. The latest COVID-19 response and protocols information is available at the Oregon Health Authority | COVID 19 Updates webpage. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon

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