ODF: Fire Prevention Measures Remain: Precipitation is Not Enough to Reduce Fire Danger

The Dalles, Ore.  With rain in the forecast, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) fire officials want to remind the public that both Hood River and Wasco counties still have a burn ban in place, prohibiting all open burning.  This restriction includes debris pile burning and burn barrels. Lifting of the burn ban is coordinated between ODF and Fire Districts in Hood River and Wasco counties.  Fire District officials will continue to monitor conditions, including fuel moisture levels, forecasted temperature and wind, and relative humidity.  These conditions help them to evaluate the potential for fire spread and how easily a spark might ignite nearby fuels. 

In addition to the burn ban, Fire Season and a Regulated-Use Closure are still in effect for private ownership, as well as state and municipally owned lands in Hood River and Wasco counties within ODF’s Central Oregon District.  The associated prevention measures are intended to reduce potential human caused fire ignitions in wildland fuels.  Recent rain and precipitation forecasted for later this week and weekend is not enough to eliminate the effects of long-term drought and a dry summer on vegetation and forest fuels.

“We are getting closer to loosening some of our restrictions”, commented Kristin Dodd, Unit Forester for The Dalles Unit.  “The cooler temperatures and shorter days, combined with recent precipitation definitely lessened our fire risk, but it is still too risky to open backyard burning quite yet.”  Much of the impact on fuels from last week’s rain has been lost due to wind and warm temperatures.  Large fuels especially need more moisture and flashy fuels such as grass quickly dry out and become receptive fuel beds to sparks.

The public is asked to be patient, continue following prevention measures, and limit any activities which could ignite a wildfire.  Once conditions are favorable for burning, fire officials will lift the burn ban accordingly.

In addition to restrictions on open fires, Regulated-Use Closure also prohibits smoking outside a vehicle in forest settings, and restricts chainsaw use and mowing of dried grass between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.  Details for all activities impacted by Fire Season and the Regulated-Use Closure are available at www.odfcentraloregon.com.

For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.