COVID-19 Notice: Voluntary request to curtail outdoor burning

Oregonians are being asked to voluntarily refrain from outdoor burning while communities are responding to the novel corona virus that causes COVID-19. While prescribed burning is an important forest management tool, smoke from non-essential fires during the current pandemic may result in the following negative consequences for the public and first responders:

  • Smoke inhalation can cause upper respiratory symptoms, which could be incorrectly attributed to COVID-19, leading to unnecessary testing or self-isolation.

  • Exposure to smoke and other forms of air pollution can increase the risk of contracting infectious respiratory disease such as COVID-19, increase the severity of existing respiratory infections, and worsen underlying chronic respiratory conditions.

  • There is a severe shortage of personal protective equipment to reduce smoke exposure at this time.

  • First responders and other emergency services are operating at a reduced capacity and have limited resources to respond to out-of-control burns.

COVID-19 affects the respiratory system. Fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the most common symptoms. While some people with COVID-19 are hospitalized, most patients recover at home, where smoke from a nearby outdoor burn could worsen their condition. To avoid additional health impacts, all people in Oregon are asked to voluntarily refrain from conducting outdoor burning activities until further notice.

We encourage the public to use the following alternative burning options when available:

  • Recycle paper products when possible

  • Compost or chip yard debris on site

  • Haul to a yard-debris composting or recycling center

  • Reuse old lumber​

​Prescribed fo​rest burning

Prescribed forest burning is a valuable tool for maintaining a healthy forest and reducing risks to public safety. Prescribed forest burning reduces forest fuels. By reintroducing periodic fire to fire-adapted landscapes, it has also been shown to reduce the potential for high-intensity wildfires and the huge volume of smoke produced by them. Fire suppression is safer, more effective and costs less in areas with a recent history of controlled burning. Prescribed forest burning also helps prepare logged sites for replanting, recycling nutrients back into the soil and reducing pests and disease. These planned fires are lit when fire danger is low and weather conditions are favorable for protecting smoke sensitive receptor area (SSRAs) communities from smoke.​

Map of smoke-regulated areas in Oregon​

map of SSRA

Outdoor burning

Check with your local ODF district, protective association office or rural fire department before burning yard debris. Burn permits are required on all ODF protected lands during fire season. Many areas prohibit all burning when fire danger increases.