September 18, 2012
Major media distribution
“We can’t afford to have a careless fire now,” says Tom Fields of the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).
“We haven’t had a reprieve from the hot, dry weather for several weeks,” the fire prevention coordinator said, “and with vegetation as dry as it is, it won’t take much to get a fire going.” Fire activity across the Pacific Northwest has also depleted firefighting resources, leaving wildland firefighting agencies thin should a large fire break out.
He noted that fire patrols across the state have been seeing an increasing number of illegal campfires that, when left to smolder, could lead to a major wildfire.
To date in 2012, not counting the numerous campfires engine crews have put out during patrols, 30 illegal campfires have burned close to six acres and cost over $25,000 to suppress.
“That’s roughly the size of six football fields: all because campfires are being left to burn in precarious areas,” he said.
Open fires, including campfires, are prohibited on all lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry, about 16 million acres of private, county, state and Bureau of Land Management (west of the Cascades) forestland. Campfires may be allowed in some designated areas and travelers should check with their local forestry or protection association office for details.
When campfires are allowed, they should be put completely out before leaving the campsite. To do so, drown the fire with an abundance of water, stir and separate the hot coals, and drown again until all of the heat has been removed.
Fields adds that even if campfires are allowed this is not a good time to have one.