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Fire Alert

With fires, temps on the rise, ODF urges C. Oregon burning pause

Recent fire in ODF's The Dalles Unit, sparked by an abandoned campfire
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Recent fire in ODF's The Dalles Unit, sparked by an abandoned campfire

Nearly a dozen fires to date, four times 10-year average

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District said Thursday it's seen a significant rise in escaped debris and agricultural burns, rekindled slash burns and fires spread from abandoned campfires across the Central Oregon District. With warmer weather on the way in coming days, the agency is urging residents not to burn, for now.

Here's the full news release from ODF:

Limited moisture in recent weeks, combined with strong winds, has resulted in dry vegetation and fuels on the landscape.  Cool spring temperatures have reduced green-up of vegetation, which typically slows fire growth in wildland fuels this time of year.   

The Central Oregon District has had 11 fires year-to-date, four times the 10-year average.  These fires have burned more than 200 acres of private lands protected by ODF; the 10-year-average is less than 10 acres for the same timeframe. 

The current short-term weather outlook is for daytime temperatures to reach 80 degrees or warmer, with no moisture in the 10-day forecast. 

Based on this forecast, the Central Oregon District is urging landowners to pause any burning planned at this time until some precipitation is seen on the landscape and the risk of wildfire is reduced. Many local fire departments have canceled burning in recent days due to strong winds in the region. 

ODF is focused on preventing wildfire impacts in communities in Central Oregon and reducing human-caused fires.

“We are strongly recommending landowners not burn for the remainder of this week due to weather and fuel conditions,” says Mike Shaw, ODF’s Central Oregon District forester. 

When weather conditions moderate and burning can be accomplished safely, landowners should contact their local fire department or ODF office to determine if burning is allowed and if a permit is needed. 

Safe burning guidelines included keeping the fire small, have water and tools available to suppress the fire if needed, never leave the fire unattended, clear the area surrounding the burn pile to mineral soil, ensure the fire is out (cold to the touch) when burning is complete, and never burn during windy conditions. 

Additionally, revisit the burn area in the days following to make sure there is no heat remaining. Debris burning includes field/pastures and irrigation ditch burning to reduce thatch.

Abandoned campfires have been linked to several recent fires. Campfires should be small, have fuels cleared away from the fire ring, never be left unattended, and should be completely extinguished prior to leaving.  Drowning with water and stirring is the best way to be certain the fire is out.

The responsible party can be cited for an uncontrolled burn and held accountable for the suppression costs of the fire, as well as any damage caused by the fire.

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  1. The fire prospects are downright scary. Little precipitation, grass is dry already, and idiots are still doing stupid burning. and, why are all the local risk dials showing little or no fire risk?

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