Fire officials stress need for precautions

With several large wildfires burning in the state and fire danger reaching extreme levels, the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service urge Oregonians to take extra precautions to protect homes near forests and to avoid starting fires.

“Forecasts are not only calling for hotter and drier conditions throughout the state, but also thunderstorms,” warns Oregon State Fire Marshal Mark Wallace. “We are again urging homeowners to take preventive actions to help defend against possible wildfires. The most critical factor is for homeowners to remove or reduce flammable fuels within a 100-foot safety zone around their home.”

Oregon State Forester Doug Decker underscored Wallace’s assessment of the fire situation and appealed in particular to forest recreationists and to those who may visit or drive through forestlands in the coming days.

“The predicted weather, coupled with the bone-dry condition of forest fuels, means any fire start in the forest could grow rapidly,” he said. “This is a time to be extra-cautious with fire or power-driven equipment in any kind of wildland setting.”

Nora Rasure, deputy regional forester for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Region, stressed the importance of maintaining perspective at this time of escalating wildfire activity.

“As always, our highest priority remains public and firefighter safety. No structure or natural or cultural resource is worth the loss of human life. We will work together as a firefighting community to utilize effective risk management tools to assess every fire, and apply the right resources at the right place at the right time.”

Wildland fire agencies are already fighting large fires in Oregon and across the region. As a result, fire engines, aircraft, hand crews and fire managers are in short supply. It is crucial that recreationists and forest workers take extra care to avoid starting new fires when resources are already stretched thin.

A variety of restrictions related to commercial forestry operations, smoking, campfires and other activities are already in effect across the state. Forest visitors should check with forestry agencies locally before heading out.

Fire prevention and safety tips can be found on the Oregon State Fire Marshal website, the Keep Oregon Green website, and at

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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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