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West Oregon District enters fire season July 2
Contact: Mike Totey, 541-929-9151
 
The Oregon Department of Forestry’s West Oregon District will enter fire season on July 2. It is no coincidence that the declaration precedes the Fourth of July weekend, since fireworks pose a wildfire threat as forest fuels dry out with the onset of summer weather.
 
Fire season imposes certain restrictions on activities in the forest. Logging operations, for example, are required to have a fire watch present after work activity ceases for the day, and fire suppression equipment must be positioned on site.
 
Backyard burning of yard waste and other debris is prohibited during fire season. Escaped debris burns rank as the most common type of human-caused wildfire in Oregon. Homeowners with yard waste such as tree prunings and grass clippings are encouraged to contact the nearest Department of Forestry office or local fire department to ask about alternative methods of disposal.
 
Fireworks and forests don’t mix
Most Oregon families planning a Fourth of July holiday outing into Oregon’s forests create a checklist of essential items to pack – sleeping bags, flashlight, bug repellent, etc. Just as important are the things NOT to take into the woods: fireworks. Whether they are the Oregon-legal variety or the banned stuff that borders on military ordnance, no fireworks of any kind have a place in the forest.
 
Even the lowly sparkler emits a shower of sparks capable of igniting the flammable duff layer found under firs and pines. And illegal fireworks such as bottle rockets and Roman candles pose an even greater wildfire threat.
 
Carelessness with fire, including fireworks, in the woods carries large potential financial liabilities:
  • Start a fire with fireworks and you can be held responsible to reimburse the forest landowner for the value of the timber damaged or destroyed.
  • If the fire occurs on private forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry, you can also be billed for the entire cost of putting out the fire.
  • Parents are legally responsible for at least $5,000 of the costs to put out fires caused by their child’s use of fireworks.
  • Using fireworks on federal forestland can result in jail time.
 
A far safer alternative to using fireworks in the woods is to take the family to a community fireworks show. There, it’s possible to enjoy spectacular, multi-stage displays without concern for personal injury or liability for burned trees. And, you can take satisfaction in knowing that you’re doing your part to ensure Oregon’s premier forest heritage and all it provides – clean water, family-wage jobs, habitat for wildlife, and much more – will be there for the next Fourth of July.
 
Fire watch waiver
The standard fire watch service requirements for forest logging operations during fire season have been modified by the West Oregon District. Effective July 2, forest operators are required to provide a watch following work shutdown for the day as follows:
  • Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1: One-hour fire watch shall be in effect for all operations.
  • Industrial Fire Precaution Level 2: Two-hour fire watch shall be in effect for all operations.
  • Industrial Fire Precaution Level 3: Three-hour fire watch shall be in effect for all operations.
  • Industrial Fire Precaution Level 4: General Shutdown of all operations (fire watch does not apply).
 
More information about the Industrial Fire Precaution Levels can be found at: www.oregon.gov/ODF/FIRE/ifpl.shtml
 
The fire season declaration applies to the entire West Oregon District, which encompasses Benton, Lincoln and Polk counties along with the southwestern portion of Yamhill County.