(Update: Public use restrictions lifted on Deschutes National Forest)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Despite some above-average early-fall temperatures, all public use restrictions on the Deschutes National Forest were lifted Wednesday, officials said.
The lifting of the public use restrictions means that campfires are now allowed outside of designated campgrounds. However, given recent warm temperatures, fire officials reminded the public to continue to be cautious with any possible ignition sources and ensure that all campfires are thoroughly extinguished.
Remember to have plenty of water nearby and a shovel on-hand when maintaining a campfire. Using explosive target material, such as Tannerite, explosives, and fireworks are always prohibited on all national forest lands.
To ensure that a fire is completely extinguished, people should use the “Drown, Stir, and Feel” method. Using that method a person drowns the fire with water, then stirs around the fire area with a shovel to wet any remaining embers and ash.
People should be sure to turn wood and coals over and wet all sides. Then people should move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to fully smother it. And finally, people should feel the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering. If a person still feels heat, they should repeat the process. A little wind on a small ember can still make a spark that will be the beginning of a fire.
Earlier Wednesday, the Oregon Department of Forestry's Central Oregon District announced it will terminate Regulated-Use Closure on the Prineville and The Dalles units as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, allowing campfires and warming fires again thanks to recent rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity.
The John Day unit will stay in Regulated-Use Closure, according to ODF, whose Wednesday announcement continues below:
Fire Season remains in effect. Burning of slash piles or other debris from forest operations is not permitted at this time.
Recent precipitation, cooler temperatures, and increased humidity has significantly reduced fire behavior and ignition potential from sparks and other heat sources; however, the public is reminded to be attentive to activities which could start a wildfire. Weather can change quickly in the fall and winds can often be erratic.
Burn barrels and burning of small piles of yard debris may be allowed by permit. Contact your local fire department or Oregon Department of Forestry office to determine if burning is allowed or to request a permit.
Campfires, warming fires, and cooking fires may be allowed with the termination of Regulated-Use Closure. These fires should be kept small, and any surrounding fuel should be cleared away to reduce potential spread. A fire tool, such as a shovel, and water or a fire extinguisher should be available to help control the fire if needed.
Fires should not be left unattended, should be DEAD OUT! and cool to the touch when you leave. Check with your local fire district for burning regulations in your area, including restrictions on campfires and recreational fires.
Activities such as mowing of dry grass, non-industrial chainsaw use, and cutting and grinding of metal will no longer have restrictions such as timing of activities or firewatch requirements. Fire Season restrictions banning the use of exploding targets and tracer ammunition are still in effect. MH-1 and MH-4, ODF protected lands within Hood River and Wasco counties, are in an Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1.
Failure to follow current restrictions may result in a citation or liability for fire suppression work. Wildfires cause damage to Oregon’s natural resources, including affecting water, soil and air quality and impact local communities.
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including Fire Season requirements, contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.