Editorial: Not if, but when during fire season

Frankton Road.

Dollar Lake.


Gnarl Ridge.

The names would read like a travelogue of historic and quirky destinations in the Gorge, except that most of us recall that the names stand for something far more terrifying:

Destructive wildfires.

These were the place names given to blazes that happened locally in the past five years or so, damaging or threatening grassland, forests and property.

July 4 brings the five-year anniversary of the Frankton fire, in fact.

With July 4 comes the double-whammy of dry ground fuels and fireworks.

Don’t be deceived by the Ranger District fire danger level pointing to “low” and the green section of the highway sign.

“Fire season is dependent on weather, and in the Gorge, that is variable,” said West Side Fire Marshal Jim 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.”

Kiel Nairns, Forest Officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry, noted that 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.”

Keep in mind creating a 30-foot “defensible space,” free of dead vegetation, around all structures. All local fire agencies are happy to assist in advising people on how to do this, and other prevention steps.

Keep your local firefighters busy with calm conversations in your yard where they carry a clipboard and not a hose.

With July 4 comes increased fire risk. We’re already hearing the fireworks go off; by the sound of them, they are the more powerful illegal out of state varieties probably purchased as close as Bingen just across the river.

It’s not alarmist to point to the specter of the terrible blazes in western Colorado, and remember the “4 BE’S” as described on page B4.

Be Responsible

(Dispose of used fireworks and debris properly.)

Be Safe

(Never re-light “dud” fireworks; soak them in a bucket of water.)

Be Prepared:

(Place pets indoors, Always have water handy.)

Be Aware:

(Fireworks are prohibited on all beaches, city and county parks, state parks, and state and federal forest land.)

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