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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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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