SALEM, Ore. - While the Southwest U.S. sizzles in a record-breaking heat wave, Oregon is also in store for elevated temperatures this weekend. Summer heat and dry landscapes increase the risk of wildfires. With some parts of the state already having declared fire season in effect, fire officials would like to remind all Oregonians to be aware of fire danger when working or recreating outdoors.
"Given the right conditions, a fire can start almost any time of year," says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. "And while we've been blessed with cool conditions thus far, fire activity is beginning to pick up as we head into the first weekend of summer."
More than 125 fires have burned 170 acres of forest and grasslands under ODF's protection in 2017. The lion's share (57 fires and 67 acres) have resulted from debris burning while another 14 were caused by people recreating (campfires, fireworks and target shooting).
If you're planning a camping trip this weekend, take extra steps to prevent a catastrophe.
* Keep your vehicle on good roads and don't idle over dry grass.
* Campgrounds are best for campfires. If campfires are allowed outside campgrounds, choose a location in a clear area away from grass, brush and overhanging trees.
* If campfires are allowed where you're heading, keep it contained and small by surrounding it with rocks. Have water and a shovel close by at all times. Put the fire completely out before leaving.
If instead, you're planning on cleaning up the property this weekend, think twice before burning yard debris. Chipping or taking to a recycling center may be safer options. Check with your local ODF/protective association office or fire department for current restrictions. If burning is allowed:
* Refrain from burning on windy days.
* Try to burn in the morning when conditions are moister.
* Keep burn piles small and manageable, feeding from larger piles.
* Scratch a wide fire trail down to mineral soil around the pile and have a shovel and charged garden hose at the ready.
* Never leave the pile unattended and put the fire completely out when finished.
Finally, go back over the next several weeks and double check the pile for heat and smoke. Burn piles can retain heat for several weeks and rekindle under warm, windy conditions.
For more information on fire restrictions and closures in your area, visit www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/restrictions or call your local ODF office.