Saturday, June 29, 2019

Department of Forestry Declares Regulated Use Closure for Central Oregon District


[Prineville, Ore.] Regulated Use closure has been declared for Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday June 29, 2019.  The closure is intended to reduce wildfires related to high risk activities as wildland fuels dry out.  Lands included in this closure include private, municipal and state owned lands protected by the Central Oregon District, in the following counties:  Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Grant, Wheeler, Morrow, Gilliam, Hood River, Lake, Harney, Umatilla, and Wasco.
Activities below are restricted by this closure.  Additional restrictions and the full proclamation can be accessed at www.Oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx
·        Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle, except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one operational 2½ pound or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
·        Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
·        Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas.
·        Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.  Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one axe, one shovel, and one operational 8 ounce or larger fire extinguisher.  In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
·        Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
·        Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and except for vehicle use by a landowner and employees of the landowner upon their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
·        The use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.
Beginning July 1, 2019 open burning including burn barrels in Hood River and Wasco counties will be prohibited with the burn ban going into effect. 
The public is also reminded that the use of tracer ammunition or exploding targets is illegal within the District during fire season.  Sky lanterns and other luminaries are prohibited in Oregon.
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Central Oregon Fire Chiefs Announce Seasonal Burning Closing at Sunset on May 31


Information from our partners:

CONTACT:    Matt Smith
Fire Chief, Crook County Fire & Rescue
Chair, Central Oregon Fire Chiefs Association
541-447-5011

The Central Oregon Fire Chiefs Association (COFCA) announces the date of closing for residential and private lands open debris burning across the tri-county region in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties. Burning debris piles on private lands in much of central Oregon will not be allowed at sunset on May 31 this year as the area heads into the summer wildland fire season. Please check with your local jurisdiction for their updated burn designation.

“In order to best serve our residents throughout central Oregon with fire and EMS protection, Central Oregon Fire Chief’s each year, jointly select a common closing date to avoid escaped residential debris burns on private lands”, said Matt Smith, Fire Chief, Crook County Fire & Rescue, and Chair of Central Oregon Fire Chiefs Association. 

Many areas in Central Oregon are drying out quickly and local, state and federal wildfire suppression resources can be quickly needed as the conditions continue to dry out,” Chief Smith said. “Even though specific areas in Central Oregon still may receive a bit of rain or even a spring snow shower before or after the closure, the region as a whole is quickly approaching fire season conditions that create unsafe conditions for residential outdoor debris burning,” adds Chief Smith.

The Central Oregon Fire Chief’s Association strongly urges homeowners to prepare their property for the upcoming fire season now before there is smoke on the horizon. Homeowners and residents who have yet to prepare their properties for the upcoming fire season with adequate defensible space will have three options for woody debris removal until fall and burn season opens again: chip the debris; haul to a local transfer site; or pile and cover until fall.

Central Oregon Fire Chief’s federal partners (US Forest Service & Bureau of Land Management) could possibly be executing prescribed burns throughout the region in preparation of fire season even after burn season closes on private lands. These prescribed burns will be conducted under carefully planned conditions such as: with federal fire resources, professional fire managers and firefighters on scene, favorable weather conditions, and carefully planned locations. These prescribed burns improve forest health and reduce the forest fuels in order to lower the wildfire risk to our communities that is ever present later in the season when the conditions are even more extreme. Creating fire resilient landscapes with prescribed burns is a critical component to implementing the National Wildland Fire Cohesive Strategy.

Residents are strongly encouraged to contact their local fire protection agencies for additional burning information and regulations. All Central Oregon fire departments and rural fire districts will continue to monitor weather and fuel moisture conditions in their district and may make modifications on a day-to-day basis.  Please call your local outdoor burning information line for your current conditions. If conditions become dryer, individual agencies may choose to close local burning sooner. Fire agencies will monitor fuels and fire conditions throughout the summer and anticipate the opening of burn season again in late fall.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bridge Drive Fire Update--Final


[La Pine, Ore.]  Today firefighters completed mop-up on the Bridge Drive Fire located in the Lazy River Sub-Division north of LaPine, Oregon.  The fire was reported at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8th burning in small Ponderosa Pine, brush and grass.  Warm temperatures, low humidity, and dry fuel conditions caused the fire to quickly grow within a few hours to 11.9 acres before firefighters were able to control the spread.  The cause of the fire was determined to be a backyard debris burn. 
Firefighters will continue to patrol the fire area over the weekend.  Oregon Department of Forestry was assisted by Deschutes National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Redmond Hot Shots, LaPine Rural Fire Department, Walker Range Fire Patrol, and numerous structural agencies from the area in the suppression and mop-up effort. 
The Deschutes County Sheriff implemented Level 3 evacuations for the area around the fire during initial attack.  One home was destroyed by the fire.  All evacuation levels have been lifted at this time. 
When burning always have fire tools and water present.  Consider no burn options such as chipping or off-site disposal when cleaning up yard debris or material from fuel reduction projects.  A landowner who is found to be negligent while burning may be held responsible for suppression costs as well as be subject to citations.  Open burning may be banned in some areas as weather warms and fire growth potential increases.  Check with your local fire department or Oregon Department of Forestry before conducting debris burning.  If you burned earlier this spring or winter check your burn area to make sure it is cool to the touch.  As weather warms burn piles can sometimes rekindle and ignite surrounding fuels.
May is Wildfire Awareness Month.  Take the time now to prepare you and your family for a wildfire.  These steps can include developing an evacuation plan, creating defensible space around your home, changing air filters within your home to help reduce smoke impacts, and finding ways to keep up to date with restrictions and prevention measures in your community. 
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information, burn permit requests, and local Unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Bridge Drive Fire--update


[La Pine, Ore.]  Mop-up continues today on the ~12 acres Bridge Drive Fire located north of La Pine in the Lazy River sub-division.  Firefighters are working within the perimeter to extinguish areas of heat and look for burning and smoldering material.  The fire is located with the urban interface with several homes inside the fire perimeter.  Overnight the firelines held and this morning mop-up is 20% complete.  One primary residence was destroyed by the fire yesterday afternoon.  Today’s resources include the Redmond Hot Shots, seven engines, a water tender, and several miscellaneous overhead.
The cause of the fire was determined to be a backyard debris burn.  Always have fire tools such as a shovel and water source on site while you are burning.  Clear the area around your fire to mineral soil before ignition.  If your fire gets out of control immediately report it to 911.   A landowner who is found to be negligent while burning may be held responsible for suppression costs as well as be subject to citations.
Predicted weather patterns for the next several days increase the risk of escaped debris burns.  Consider using a no burn option for disposing of yard debris or other vegetation, or wait until the weather is better for burning.  Some no burn options include chipping or transporting the material to a disposal site.  Open burning may be banned in some areas as this warm, dry weather passes through.  Check with your local fire department or Oregon Department of Forestry before conducting debris burning.
May is Wildfire Awareness Month.  Take the time now to prepare you and your family for a wildfire.  These steps can include developing an evacuation plan, creating defensible space around your home, changing air filters within your home to help reduce smoke impacts, and finding ways to keep up to date with restrictions and prevention measures in your community. 
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information, burn permit requests, and local Unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Bridge Drive Fire


[La Pine, Ore.]  Firefighters were dispatched around 2:30 p.m. today to a wildfire burning just north of La Pine, on private land in the Lazy River Sub-division.  The fire burned through small timber, brush and grass.  Observed fire behavior included single tree and group tree torching as well as the fire spotting ahead, causing rapid fire growth.  The fire was caught early this evening, using dozers and roads as firelines.  Firefighters continue to work mopping-up areas of heat and flame inside the fireline to limit potential of fire moving outside the line or igniting unburned vegetation inside the perimeter.  The fire was mapped at 11.9 acres. 
Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and LaPine Rural Fire Department are in Unified Command of the fire.  Resources involved in the suppression effort included two structural task forces from Deschutes County, eight wildland fire engines from Deschutes National Forest, Walker Range Fire Patrol, and the Oregon Department of Forestry, Redmond Hot Shots, a hand crew from ODF, Air Attack, miscellaneous overhead, and structural resources from La Pine Rural Fire Department.  A dozer from Walker Range Fire Patrol was utilized for fireline construction. 
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office implemented Level 3 Evacuations (GO NOW) for areas near the fire as well as road closures for public safety.  These evacuations have since been reduced to Level 1 (BE READY).  One primary structure was destroyed by the fire.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The extended forecast for the remainder of the week through the weekend for central Oregon is for warming temperatures and reduced humidity.  These unseasonably warm, dry conditions increase the risk of fire growth at a more rapid rate than we have seen so far this spring.  Fires should never be left unattended, this includes burn barrels, debris burns, and campfires.  If you burned earlier this spring revisit the area and make sure the pile (or remnant) is cool to the touch.  Have fire tools such as a shovel, hose, or water bucket readily available near your fire.  Always fully extinguish any cigarettes and properly dispose of butts.  Use caution when welding or cutting metal, or mowing dried vegetation.  Following these guidelines significantly reduces the potential of accidental ignition or fire spread.  Open burning may be banned in some areas as this warm, dry weather passes through.  Check with your local fire department or Oregon Department of Forestry before conducting debris burning.
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information, burn permit requests, and local Unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.