Saturday, July 14, 2012
As of July 1, a no-burn policy is in effect for Hood River County. No outdoor fires will be allowed, except under special circumstances (such as agricultural burns) on an as-needed basis.
Hood River County Fire Defense Chief and West Side Fire District Fire Marshall Jim Trammell said that the Hood River County Fire Chiefs Association, in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Forestry, developed the July 1 burn ban four years ago.
Previously, fire season was declared whenever the weather got dry, making it tough to know when the policy would go into effect from year to year.
Even though the weather has been cooler this year, plants go dormant and dry out in the summer months regardless of outside temperature, said Trammell. And while fire season has yet to be officially declared, forestry stations are already fully staffed.
Wind and weather
“Fire season is dependent on weather, and in the Gorge, that is variable,” said Trammell. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared. It’s not if, it’s when we have another fire similar to the Microwave Fire of two years ago.”
The July 1 burn ban has been very effective in reducing fires in the county, said Kiel Nairns, forest officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry, adding that there have been four debris fires this year just in our area as of June 28.
“Outside of the burn ban there is still potential (for a fire), so be cautious,” said Nairns.
So far, fire season looks about average for this time of year. “The recent rain we’ve had has put us back a little bit as far as extreme fire potential,” said Nairns. “But there’s potential for one large fire in the area.”
Trammell recommends having a 30-foot “defensible space,” free of dead vegetation, around all structures. Anyone needing assistance with fire safety should call local fire services.
Wildland fire notice
A wildland-urban interface refers to the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development. Communities that are within a half-mile of the zone may also be included. These lands and communities adjacent to and surrounded by wildlands are at risk of wildfires.
Creating defensible space around your home is the best way to protect your home from wildfire in the wildland-urban interface, according to Hood River Fire Marshal Peter Mackwell.
Remember ‘Defensible Space’
The first 30 feet surrounding your home — referred to as the primary ignition zone — is the most critical and there are some simple actions that a homeowner can take to help protect their homes from wildfire that are easy, quick, and relatively inexpensive, such as:
n Removing dead and dying debris — particularly from places that it piles up near the home such as in gutters and planters, any “valleys” that can catch debris that embers and sparks can blow onto — the most common way for a wildfire to damage or destroy a home in the wildland-urban interface.
n Storing firewood at least 20 feet away from the home or completely covering it to protect it from those same blowing embers and sparks.
n Properly maintaining the plants that are in the area —pruning, removing dead and dying materials, and keeping them well-watered and green.
A defensible space also allows room for firefighters to fight the fire safely.
Protecting your home from wildfire falls into three categories:
n using fire-resistant building materials (such as roofing)
n reducing fuels around your home (such as wood piles)
n planting fire-resistant plants in your landscape
While these steps do not ensure that your home will survive a wildfire, they substantially increase the chances that it will.
If you have additional questions regarding wildland fire safety, come by the fire station located at 1785 Meyer Parkway or call the fire station at 541-386-3939.
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Lawnmower torches Arbor Vitae on Portland Drive
The riding lawn mower driven by Norma Cannon overheated and made contact with dry arbor vitae owned by Lee and Norma Curtis, sending more than a dozen of the tightly-packed trees up in flames. The mower, visible at far right, was totaled. No one was injured; neighbors first kept the fire at bay with garden hoses and Westside and Hood River Fire Departments responded and doused the fire before it reached any structures. Westside Fire chief Jim Trammell, in blue shirt, directs firefighters. The video was taken by Capt. Dave Smith of Hood River Fire Department. Enlarge