Friday, May 30, 2014

Fire Season Starts June 2 in ODF's SWO District

Fire season on forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Southwest District begins Monday, June 2, at 12:01 a.m. The fire danger level will be “moderate” (blue) and 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.

A dry winter has left dead vegetation (fallen trees and branches, leaves and litter, etc.) unusually low on moisture content. The extended forecast for summer in southwest Oregon predicts hotter and drier than normal conditions, increasing the likelihood of wildfires starting easily and increasing in size faster. The fire precaution regulations prohibit activities, such as debris burning, that commonly cause wildfires in late spring and early summer.

Fire season restrictions that will go into effect on June 2 are as follows:
  • Debris burning will be prohibited, except burn barrels for which a burn permit has been obtained from ODF or local structural fire protection districts. 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:
    • Campfires 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;
    • 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;
  • Under IFPL 1, 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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Open Burning Safety Tips

The valley grasses are turning brown across southwest Oregon and ODF and the fire districts have been picking up a grass fire or two nearly every day. Many of the fires have been caused by escaped burn piles.

Here are a few tips for keeping your burn pile from becoming a wildfire. Call the county burn line to make sure it is ok to burn that day.

  • Jackson County: (541) 776-7007
  • Josephine County: (541) 476-9663
Check the weather forecast. If strong or gusty winds are predicted, consider holding off on burning that day. In general, burn in the morning and finish early in the afternoon. Have water, a shovel and metal rake close at hand. Monitor your burn pile at all times. When the pile has finished burning, extinguish all embers and check the burned area for hot spots the next day.

To report a fire, call 9-1-1. To report someone burning garbage, call the Dept. of Environmental Quality's hotline at 888-997-7888.

Burn early, burn safely, and make sure your burn pile fire is dead out at the end of the day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Fire Roundup

Six small fires were reported over the Memorial Day weekend on lands protected by ODF's Southwest Oregon District. The largest was a 13-acre grass fire near Pompadour Bluff, east of Ashland, that burned Monday afternoon. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Engine crews from the Medford Unit also responded to the following fires:
  • A 1.3-acre fire broke out Saturday on private land located 2 miles west of Butte Falls on Obenchain Rd. The fire was quickly contained and the cause is under investigation.
  • Also on Saturday, a quarter-acre fire was controlled near to Highway 234 in Gold Hill. The fire was caused by an escaped debris burning pile.
  • Another debris burning pile got out of control on Sunday east of Eagle Point. The fire burned a tenth of an acre on private land on Vista Park Dr.
Crews from ODF's Grants Pass Unit responded to two fires over the weekend, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Both fires were located in the Brimstone Creek drainage and each was contained at 1/100th of an acre. The cause of these fires is under investigation.