Wildfire risk soars
July 29, 2015
Already in Lane and Linn counties, a number of timber companies have closed their lands to the public due to the risk of human-caused fires. Recreationists can learn which corporate forestlands in the district are open by checking the ODF website, www.oregon.gov/odf/FIRE/Closures/Corporate%20Closures.pdf
The district forester said it is important to remember that fuels in the wildland areas are primed to burn. The intensity of fire starts under the current conditions would require more firefighting resources. And once on site, firefighters will face limited sources of water in streams and reservoirs to extinguish the fires.
Jude McHugh, public affairs officer with the Willamette National Forest, said fire conditions are similar on U.S. Forest Service lands.
"Unfortunately, the Willamette National Forest this year as of July 21 has had 47 human-caused fires out of 103 total fires," she said. The PIO advised visitors to the Willamette that "campfires are allowed only in designated campgrounds with fire rings and need to be 'Dead Out' when leaving your campsite."
Wagenblast likewise reminded recreationists visiting state protected forestlands and parks to be particularly aware of the wildfire risk. As on the National Forest, campfires and other open fires on ODF's protection jurisdiction are prohibited except in designated campgrounds. Motorized vehicles must be operated only on established roads. Smoking is restricted to inside closed vehicles or buildings. Other fire safety restrictions can be obtained by contacting the jurisdictional agency.
High temperatures and threat of lightning forecasted
As the heat returns to the region this week, fire managers are once again spreading the word of caution in efforts to prevent human-caused fires. Fire weather meteorologists are anticipating temperatures in the high 90's and low 100's midweek with a chance of lightning in southern and eastern Oregon arriving Friday. A Red Flag Warning is also in effect for much of the Willamette Valley and southern Oregon calling for hot and dry unstable conditions combined with low fuel moisture levels.
As fire season hits full stride, the chances of fires starting and spreading rapidly are of grave concern.
"We're looking at a formidable fire weather forecast," said Oregon State Forester Doug Decker. "The benefit of any recent moisture we've received has now evaporated, and we're looking straight at record-breaking temperatures, extremely low humidities, and dry lightning: the trifecta of bad wildfire conditions."
"This is the time for all Oregonians and visitors to be extremely aware of fire danger. One wrong move with power equipment, a cigarette, or any open flame can spell trouble."
Homeowners and outdoor enthusiasts alike can contribute to the fire prevention campaign by reducing fire prone activities. Campfires are only allowed in designated campgrounds on public lands and prohibited entirely on all private lands under ODF's protection. Outdoor debris burning also remains prohibited throughout much of the state. While logging activity is being curtailed under these extreme conditions, many large industrial landowners have also closed their gates to public access in efforts to reduce possible ignitions from off-road driving, target shooting, smoking and campfires; all of which are illegal during fire season.
Should a fire occur close to communities, State Fire Marshal Jim Walker is urging homeowners to be prepared in case an evacuation is necessary. "A serious wildfire can come up in a moment's notice, so residents need to prepare now in case they have to leave their home, Walker said. "Make sure to put together a "Go Kit" and make a plan where your family will go and how you will stay in contact." Find out more at http://www.wildlandfirersg.org .
To date, 621 fires have burned 3,393 acres on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and forest protective associations. Of these, 429 have been caused by people. ODF protects about 16 million acres of private and public forest and grazing land from wildfire in Oregon.
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