Forest fire danger still on the rise

Fires are burning throughout the nation, and Oregon has already experienced a few blazes.

The month of June may not be the time you think of fire danger, but with a 35-acre fire north of Corvallis and a 150-acre fire near Sisters recently, the danger has become a reality. This year there have already been more than 150 fires on state-protected forestlands in Oregon, covering over 300 acres.

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has protection responsibility on private- and state-owned lands throughout the state and Bureau of Land Management federal lands in western Oregon. These lands are divided into protection units, each of which enters fire season when local conditions warrant.

To date, fire season has been declared in the Eastern Lane, Linn, Klamath-Lake, Southwest Oregon, Central Oregon and Western Lane Districts. In addition, the Walker Range Patrol Association and Coos and Douglas Forest Protective Associations have entered fire season.

With the start of summer, more areas will be entering fire season as fuels dry and fire danger increases.

ODF Assistant State Forester Charlie Stone warns that this year may be a sleeper.

“Good rainfall and a large snowpack this winter may have people more relaxed than in the last two years,” Stone said. “But this spring, rainfall has been below average. Fire behavior has been moderated so far by cooler than average temperatures. However, a few days of warm weather and wind will quickly turn that around.”

The two recent fires are indicators that a rough season may be on the near horizon, said Stone.

“We need the public to be alert about potentially serious fire conditions in many parts of the state,” he cautioned.

When considering a weekend of outdoor enjoyment, it is important to remember fire safety. Restrictions on campfires, all-terrain vehicle use, cigarette smoking and chainsaw use will be restricted as fire danger increases.

In some districts, restrictions are already in effect. Check with your local Oregon Department of Forestry district office for information regarding these uses and debris burning permits.

Industrial fire precaution levels (IFPLs) will also go into effect as the season progresses. Landowners and forest operators have additional restrictions placed on forest activities during the fire season.

The most severe level is a “general shutdown,” when all activities are prohibited.

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