'We need the public’s help to keep this fire season as quiet as we possibly can'
(Update: Adding video, comments from Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As the High Desert moves into wildfire season, local, state and federal fire agencies have raised Central Oregon's fire risk level to "moderate."
“In looking at the fuel conditions and the weather forecasts, we’re able to see more of these days like today, where we’re starting out into the '70s and the 80s," Oregon Department of Forestry Public Information Officer Christie Shaw said Wednesday. "Things dry out really quickly in the finer fuels.”
Fires from the finer fuels such as needles more readily spread into larger fuels.
“We don’t want to wait until we’re already seeing big fires before we move into that moderate category," Shaw said.
The Bureau of Land Management is also cracking down, with fire restrictions across Oregon and Washington starting Friday.
“(It) prohibits the use of fireworks, exploding targets or metallic targets, steel component ammunition, tracer incendiary devices and sky lanterns,” BLM Public Affairs Specialist Morgan Rubanow listed.
There are also campfire restrictions along the BLM-administered rivers and lakes Central Oregon going into effect on June 1.
By imposing such regulations, the goal is to reduce the chances of wildfires, and better protect first responders and local communities.
According to ODF, the most common ways wildfires are started during fire season are from vehicles, sparks from equipment such as lawn mowers and power tools, and abandoned campfires. On average, 70% of the wildfires in Oregon are human-caused.
With Memorial Day weekend celebrations around the corner, Shaw and Rubanow advise campers to put out their fires completely and clear areas around their campfire rings.
“We need the public’s help to keep this fire season as quiet as we possibly can," Rubanow said.