Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fire Season Begins June 3

Fire season on forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Southwest District begins June 3. The fire danger level is currently “low” (green) but will move to “moderate” (blue) on Monday at 12:01 a.m. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) will be 1 (one). This declaration affects state, private, county and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Fire season is determined by the state forester when vegetation becomes dry and fires become harder to control.

Wildfire activity has been brisk this spring with 54 fires burning 48 acres. Twenty-three of the fires were caused by lightning during storms May 5-6. The largest of the lightning-caused fires was a 6-acre fire in the Elk Creek drainage. Seventeen of the fires were caused by escaped debris-burning fires.

Weather and fire behavior forecasters are predicting that this summer will be hotter and drier than recent years. Southwest Oregon, and much of the West, has near-historic low levels of snowpack and vegetation fuel moistures. Even though recent rainstorms have helped to forestall the start of fire season, the moisture wasn’t enough to reverse the long-term drying trend.

Fire season restrictions that will go into effect on June 3 are as follows:
  • Debris burning will be prohibited, except burn barrels for which a burn permit has been obtained from ODF or your local structural fire protection district. Burn barrel use will be completely prohibited beginning July 1;
  • The use of fireworks on forestlands will be prohibited;
  • Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, will be prohibited;
  • In the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River between Grave creek and Marial:
  • Camp fires must be in fire pans or on a fire blanket that is placed on sand or gravel bars between the river and the high water mark, and only in areas which are naturally free of flammable vegetation. Ashes must be hauled out;
  • Smoking will be permitted on sand and gravel bars between the river and the high water mark, and only in areas naturally free of flammable vegetation, or in boats and rafts while on the river;
  • Travelers must carry a shovel and a bucket with a capacity of at least one gallon;
  • Commercial operations, such as timber harvesting conducted on forestlands will be required to have fire suppression equipment on the job site at all times. A watchman must also be provided.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season 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