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USFS urging caution; C.O. human-caused wildfires have doubled this year

Extreme fire danger

Hot holiday weekend, big crowds, extreme fire danger a risky combination

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- After a summer that brought big crowds and a sharp rise in human-caused wildfires, Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland officials urged visitors Wednesday to take all necessary precautions to prevent new ignitions this Labor Day weekend.

This year, Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch has recorded 191 human-caused fires, compared to 93 human-caused starts in 2019. Overall, 2020 has seen the highest number of human-caused starts in the past five years.

Public fire use restrictions remain in place across Central Oregon due to extreme fire danger. Campfires are only allowed in open, designated campgrounds. Fire use restrictions prohibit campfires in designated wilderness areas across the Deschutes and Ochoco national forests.

Portable fire pits, stoves and lanterns using bottled gas are allowed in areas outside of designated campgrounds.

Remain fire aware and help protect our firefighters, community and natural resources by keeping in mind the following:

  • If you’re in an open, designated campground where campfires are allowed, your campfire needs to be dead out anytime you’re leaving or it’s unattended. Bring a shovel and have plenty of water on hand to make sure your fire is cold to the touch.
  • Secure your trailer chains. Loose chains can drag on pavement creating sparks that can ignite vegetation.
  • Smoking must be done within an enclosed vehicle or building, a designated campground, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
  • Do not drive or park on dry grass as the heat from your vehicle can serve as an ignition source.
  • When using a generator, gas/liquified stove, fire pit or lantern, make sure the area around it is free of all debris and combustible material.
  • Drone use over fires, including those in mop-up status, is illegal and poses a great risk to aerial resources and firefighters.

Public lands across Central Oregon continue to see increased usage. Visitors should practice responsible recreation by practicing “Leave No Trace” principles, including “Pack It In, Pack It Out.” Plan to pack out garbage when dumpsters or trash cans are full, as unsecured trash poses a serious risk to wildlife.

Also, Central Oregon’s bow hunting season is now open. Remember to wear bright colors when hiking in hunting units and respect hunting areas.

For current wildland fire information, the public can visit or follow fire information on Twitter @CentralORfire. For current Central Oregon Fire Precaution Information call 1-800-523-4737. Call 9-1-1 to report a wildfire.

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