Dry, windy cold front due, fanning wildfire fears

Campfires, warning fires can cause big trouble

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 3:20 PM PDT October 1, 2012 
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BEND, Ore. -

A dry cold front is expected in Central Oregon Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing with it higher winds and no moisture.

Despite the cooler temperatures, this forecast has fire officials concerned about the potential for fast-moving fires from unattended campfires, warming fires and other human causes. 

“Cooler nights are great for campfires but can quickly turn into disaster if not completely extinguished,” says Ben Duda, assistant unit forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

“Our landscape is still extremely dry and vulnerable to any sparks or embers,” Duda added.        

The three-week old Pole Creek Fire still serves as a somber reminder of the potential for rapid fire spread in dry brush. 

“Even with cooler temps, high winds in our already dry environment provide a formula for brush fires,” said Katie Lighthall, program director for Project Wildfire. 

Oregon Department of Forestry and Project Wildfire remind residents and visitors to make sure campfires and warming fires are “dead out” -- completely drowned by water, stirred with dirt and cool to the touch before leaving. 

Outdoor debris burning is still not allowed in Deschutes County.  Some fire districts, however, permit small campfires and warming fires.  ODF and Project Wildfire recommend checking with your local fire district about campfire and warming fire restrictions, especially on windy days. 

“Unless a small fire is absolutely necessary, we strongly discourage any fires at all during this extremely dry, windy period,” added Lighthall. 

For more information about putting out campfires and warming fires properly, please contact the local Oregon Department of Forestry office at 541-549-2731.  

For more information about how you can protect your property against fast-moving brush fires, please visit or www.firefree.org or call 541-322-7129.