Friday, April 26, 2013

Hot Weather Increases Wildfire Risk

Spring has sprung in southwest Oregon and early season wildfires are popping up. Several days with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s have dried old grasses, weeds and fallen tree branches to the point that vegetation fires are starting easily. Residents are asked to use extra caution with fire, particularly when burning debris piles and using burn barrels.

Fire season on the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District, which protects 1.8 million acres of private, state, county and Bureau of Land Management wildlands in Jackson and Josephine counties, typically starts in June. However, during a year when spring is dry and warm, fire season has begun in May. If the weather remains warm and dry, it is possible that fire season will start earlier than normal.

This week, a 10-acre fire burned in the woods west of Rogue River, a 6-acre fire burned in a forested area east of Prospect, and several other small fires have broken out in both Jackson and Josephine counties. No homes were threatened by the fires, but the blazes illustrated how easily wildfires are starting and spreading during this warm spell.

Residents doing any pile burning are encouraged to closely monitor weather forecasts, and to postpone burning when gusty winds are predicted. Have a garden hose or other water source at the burn site, and keep a shovel close at hand. Monitor the burning debris pile at all times, burn early in the day and have the burn pile completely extinguished by nightfall.

Also, it is necessary to call the county burn line prior to burning to find out whether burning is allowed on a given day. The phone number in Jackson County is (541) 776-7007, and (541) 476-9663 in Josephine County. It is also necessary to have a burning permit, if required, from your structural fire protection district.

For more information about wildland fire prevention, contact your local Oregon Dept. of Forestry unit office:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr: (541) 474-3152