Burn ban in effect as of July 1

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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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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