Monday, May 22, 2017

Risk for Wildfires Increasing -- Use Caution When Burning Debris

While the above average rainfall has led to a lower fire risk the past month, it has also led to an abundance of grass and brush. Despite the unusually wet winter and extended spring, temperatures have already begun to increase and all the grass and brush has begun to dry out enough to raise the risk for wildfires.

ODF Southwest Oregon District is urging residents to take advantage of this time to prepare for #wildfires by creating a 100 foot zone of defensible space around their homes. However, people need to take caution when working with fire to rid of excess debris.

“Last year’s wildfires once again highlighted how important it is for homeowners to prepare their homes to survive a wildfire,” said Lee Winslow, Assistant District Forester, “However, warmer temperatures and curing grasses often increase the risk of burn piles escaping.”

Debris burning is the number one human-caused wildfire, with many fires taking place in the late spring and early fall. State law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires any time of year. A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. If your debris burn spreads out of control, you are responsible for the cost of fire suppression and very likely the damage to neighboring properties. This can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

A burn pile is less likely to escape if these simple safety tips are followed:
• Seek alternatives to burning, such as chipping or recycling the debris.
• If you decide to burn the material, call your structural fire department to see if a burning permit is required.
• Call your county’s air quality office to find out whether debris burning is allowed that day. The number in Jackson County is (541) 776-7007; in Josephine County call (541) 476-9663.
• Know the weather forecast and avoid burning on dry, windy days.
• Construct the burn pile in an isolated area so the flames will not spread to adjacent vegetation. Make sure there are no overhanging branches or powerlines above the pile.
• Dig or scrape down to mineral soil to form a fire line around the burn pile.
• Keep the burn pile small. A small pile is easier to control than a large one. A small pile of 4x4 feet is recommended. You can add additional debris as existing material is consumed.
• Have a shovel and water at the burn pile site. If the site can be reached with a garden hose, make sure the hose extends at least 25 feet beyond the pile’s location.
• Never use gasoline or other accelerants to start or increase your open fire. Every year, 10 to 15 percent of all burn injuries treated at the Oregon Burn Center in Portland are the result of backyard debris burning.
• Burn only yard debris. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors.
• Stay with the fire until it is completely out. Monitoring a debris burn continually from start to finish is required by state law to ensure that any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly. Check and recheck your burn pile to guarantee it is dead out.

In addition to burning excess debris, the following tips should be considered when planning your homes’ safety against a wildfire:
• Remove all flammable vegetation 30 feet from all structures.
• Space trees and plants away from each other at least 100 feet from all structures.
• Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.
• Trim branches six feet from the ground.
• Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., not in the heat of the day and not during extremely dry and windy days.
• Landscape with fire resistant plants.
• Use fire ignition resistant building materials.

Remember #DefensibleSpace is your responsibility.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fire Season is Ending but Fire Prevention Never Stops

Oregon Department of Forestry fire officials are officially ending the 2016 fire season on Southwest Oregon District-protected lands Thursday, October 13 at 12:00 a.m.

The conclusion of fire season is a result of cooler temperatures and continued rainfall throughout Jackson and Josephine counties.

The fire prevention regulations put into effect on June 30 will no longer be enforced. This impacts 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands in Jackson and Josephine counties.
Although fire season is coming to a close, it does not mean that there is no danger of wildfire. The end of fire season eases restrictions on activities that often can start a fire but does not relieve a person of responsibility for their actions.
Residents need to remember that it is everyone’s responsibility to practice fire prevention protocol. When burning or using any type of fire in the woods or yard, make sure to be in attendance and maintain control of your burn at all times. Clear above and around your burn, with firefighting equipment nearby as a precaution. Residents should contact their local fire department before conducting any burning as restrictions vary among local fire districts.
The firefighters and staff at the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District would like to thank all partnering agencies, support staff and the public for their continued cooperation this fire season.
For more information, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
·         Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
·         Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152
Information is also available online at www.swofire.com.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fire Restrictions Lower Today, Fire Season Remains in Effect

The wet weather and cooler temperatures has prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to drop the fire danger level to “Low” (green) today.
These changes affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands in Jackson and Josephine counties that are protected by ODF Southwest Oregon District.
Dry conditions by the weekend could still pose a risk; however, rain returns again next week reducing the chance for difficult fires. Fire managers will reevaluate the upcoming conditions in order to determine if fire season can be terminated soon.
The fire prevention regulations put into effect on June 30 will be modified to the following:
• No debris burning, this includes piles and debris burned in burn barrels;
In addition to the modified public use restrictions, under state law, the use of tracer ammunition, exploding targets and sky lanterns is prohibited as long as fire season remains.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public regulated use regulations, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
• Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
• Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Fire Restrictions Drop to Moderate on Sunday

The lower temperatures and forecasted rainfall has prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to drop the fire danger level to “Moderate” (blue) Sunday, October 2, 2016.
In addition, the Industrial Fire Precaution Level will reduce to level I (one), also effective tomorrow.
The fire prevention regulations put into effect on June 30 remain in force. These regulations listed below affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands in Jackson and Josephine counties that are protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District.
Fire prevention regulations currently in effect, and which will remain in effect, include:
·         No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels;
·         No firework use on forestlands;
·         Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited;
·         No sky lanterns may be used in wildland and forestland areas.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public regulated use regulations, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
·         Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328

·         Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152

Monday, September 26, 2016

New Pocketcard and Stats Now Available

Cooler weather and precipitation will continue the downward trend in ERC values and overall fire danger. During the forecast period we will have a sharp decrease in daily high temps. For the latest pocketcard and stat sheet please see the SWO Fire Data website.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

New Lightning Maps Now Available

Scattered lightning occurred last night across the region in both Jackson and Josephine County. For the latest lighting maps please visit the SWO Fire Data website

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fire Danger Level Drops to High Tomorrow

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity across southwest Oregon have made it possible to ease off on some of the fire prevention regulations. However, warm and dry weather is expected to return to the region by the weekend.
The fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will be lowered to “high” (yellow) tomorrow, September 22, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level will remain at level 2 (two).
These regulations affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands protected by ODF’s Southwest Oregon District.
Restrictions on the public use of chain saws, brush cutters and other power-driven or spark-emitting machinery are being slightly relaxed, allowing the use of equipment until 10:00 a.m. and after 8 p.m. Today will be the last day power-driven and/or spark-emitting machinery is completely prohibited.
Other fire prevention regulations which will remain in effect, include:
·         No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels;
·         No firework use on forestlands;
·         Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited;
·         No sky lanterns may be used in wildland and forestland areas.
·         Campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds. Portable stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels may be used in other locations;
·         Motorized vehicles are allowed only on improved roads;
·         Chain saws may be used until 10:00 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m. Chain saw users must have an ax, a shovel and an 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the job site, and a fire watch is required for one hour after the saw is shut down;
·         Mowing of dead or dry grass with power-driven equipment is allowed until 10:00 a.m., and may resume after 8:00 p.m. This restriction does not apply to mowing green lawns, or to equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops;
·         The cutting, grinding or welding of metal are allowed until 10:00 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m. These activities may only take place at a site cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and with a water supply at the job site;
·         Any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine not specifically mentioned is permitted during high fire danger before 10:00 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m. as long as it is conducted in a cleared area and has a charged garden hose or one 2 ½ pound or larger fire extinguisher immediately available.
·         Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water, and other designated locations;
·         Electric fence controllers must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be installed and used in compliance with the fence controller’s instructions for fire safe operation.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public regulated use regulations, or Industrial Fire Precaution Levels, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
·         Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
·         Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152