Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spring Activities Can Ignite Wildfires

Spring has finally sprung in Northeast Oregon!  With the warm weather and sunny skies comes the desire to move into the outdoors.  Spring is a great time to get out and enjoy the recreation opportunities that the area has to offer.  However, fire danger is still present despite the more normal winter conditions we experienced this year.

“There’s a period in the spring when fire danger is still high.  The vegetation is still dormant and hasn’t greened up yet.” said Joseph Goebel, Wildland Fire Supervisor in Wallowa.

These conditions were evident on Saturday when an abandoned warming fire escaped from its ring and burned approximately 1 ½ acres along the Grande Ronde River.  Fire crews from Wallowa Rural Fire Department as well as Oregon Department of Forestry responded to the blaze. 

“Cool nights and mornings have folks looking for ways to get warm.  They just need to make sure that their fire is dead out before they move on.”  Goebel said.

Another pre-season fire danger is debris burning.  Spring is the time when many of us clean up around the yard and look for ways to get rid of built up yard debris.  Debris burning is often the way people turn to get rid of these piles.  Regardless of the time of year, burning requires extreme attention.  Debris burning is the number one human-cause of wildfire.  Many of these fires take place before and after the normal fire season.  ODF officials encourage landowners to heed caution and refer to the following checklist before burning:

·       First seek alternatives to burning. Check with your local landscapers or landfills for composting and debris removal programs.

·       If you decide to burn the material, call your local fire department to see if a burning permit is required.  Burning regulations are not the same in all areas.

·       Once approved, prepare by having a shovel and charged garden hose at the burn site.

·       Find a clear site away from buildings and trees with overhanging branches.

·       Clear a fire trail down to mineral soil around the pile or incinerator of at least 10 feet in diameter.

·       Divide large piles into smaller piles.  Smaller piles burn quickly and efficiently and are easier to control.

·       Avoid burning during windy conditions. Embers can travel and ignite spot fires nearby.

·       Stay with the fire, wetting down the edges to prevent escape, until it is completely out.

·       Remember, unattended piles can quickly spread out of control.  If your debris burn escapes control, call 911 immediately.

This is also the best time of year to make your property wildfire-safe.  Be sure and remove all dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.  Create a defensible space of 30 to 100 feet around your home by clearing brush and moving wood piles.  Keep your lawn well irrigated and make sure your driveway is clearly marked and accessible for emergency vehicles and equipment. For more information, contact your nearest ODF office. is your spot for current fire information in the Blue Mountains. 


To report a fire, call Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch at (541)963-7171 or dial 9-1-1. 



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