BEND, Ore. -

The warm summer-like weather across Central Oregon over the weekend served as a timely reminder that residents can take simple steps to create defensible space and prepare their homes for wildfire. 

This past weekend marked the first FireFree weekend at Knott Landfill for residents to dispose of yard waste for FREE in an effort to create and maintain defensible space around homes – in the “Home Ignition Zone.”  

Bend-area residents responded by bringing 4,921 cubic yards of flammable yard waste to Knott Landfill, while residents on Bend’s west side took advantage of the convenient West Side Collection Site and recycled 1,690 cubic yards of pine needles and other debris.   

Sunriver area residents brought 821 cubic yards to the Sunriver Compost Site.

Residents in Jefferson County also responded by bringing 124 cubic yards of yard debris to Box Canyon Transfer Station in Madras over the weekend, which is double the amount of debris from 2013.

The overall total collected for the first round of FireFree events was 7,556 cubic yards!  

“The Home Ignition Zone is the most vulnerable part of residential property when a wildfire is nearby”, states FireFree Program Director Alison Green. “Individual homeowners are our greatest resource when it comes to protecting structures in the event of a wildfire”. 

A home is more at risk from fire damage caused by glowing embers that ignite pine needles and other debris on roofs, in gutters and under decks than from damage caused by advancing flames.  “Reducing this structuralvulnerability by cleaning up a 30-100 foot zone around your home is the number one way to help protect the homes of central Oregon residents,” recommends Green.

Green reminds residents to visit www.FireFree.org for more information about preparing your home for wildfire season.

FireFree allows residents of central Oregon the opportunity to dump yard waste and debris at no charge at area landfills and transfer stations in Deschutes and Jefferson Counties. 

Debris will be accepted at the Knott Landfill in Bend all this week through Saturday May 10.  Hours are 7:00 AM – 4:30 PM. 

The West Side Collection Site on Simpson Ave in Bend will accept debris Friday & Saturday May 9 & 10. Hours are 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

The transfer stations in Redmond, Sisters and La Pine will accept debris Friday and Saturday May 16 & 17 only.  Hours are 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Box Canyon Transfer Station will accept debris Saturday and Sunday May 10 & 11.  Hours are 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Please remember to cover your loads! Drivers of uncovered loads and loads that lose debris along the roadways are subject to a large fine.  Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office will be on patrol during the Free Recycle Days.

For participating residents, please note that sod, manure, lumber or other wood products and land clearing debris are not permitted free of charge during these clean up days.  They will be accepted although regular rates for these materials will apply.  

FireFree is a public education campaign designed to increase resident participation in wildfire defense and to mitigate losses due to wildfire.  The annual clean up days are a key part of involving area residents in removing debris from around their homes and property, and increasing awareness about other steps they can take to reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires reaching homes and neighborhoods.

For more information about FireFree activities in your area, call your local fire department or the FireFree office at 541-322-7129.