Despite rain and cooler weather in Oregon over the weekend, fire dangers remain in the state. A reminder was released by the Oregon Department of Forestry.
“It’s very easy to think that with the lower temperatures that the potential of fire has gone down,” ODF spokesperson Jessica Prakke said. “However, we are still seeing new fire starts daily throughout the state of Oregon.”
Prakke said lots of fires on land managed by state foresters are human caused. According to department data, there have been just over 500 human caused fires of various sizes this year, a number that is less than the 10-year-average for this time of year.
“A big thing that we’re seeing right now is some small grass fires that are starting on the side of the road,” Prakke said, noting there are steps Oregonians can take to help prevent such blazes from starting.
“We don’t want people parking over dried grass and we also want to make sure that they’re servicing their vehicle or ATVs regularly in order to reduce the chance of creating sparks.”
Prakke says people should never throw cigarette butts outdoors, and people should check local restrictions against campfires. Debris burning is prohibited during fire season without a permit, so forestry officials advise people to cover their piles and wait until fire season is over. A dry, covered pile is cleaner and safer to burn in the late fall or winter.
The rain did help rein in some fires and many fires on ODF land are in the mop up phase, according to Prakke. But the Cedar Creek Fire near Oakridge, grew by nearly 20,000 acres since Friday, though fire crews improved containment from zero to 11%.
“Even after the first rain happens here in Oregon, the fuels will still be very dry,” Prakke said, adding that much of the state is still in a drought.
Prakke said individual Oregon Department of Forestry districts declare the start and end of their fire seasons ,”using the fire analysts that work in those districts.”
A statewide fire season is declared at the point when all districts are in fire season. Ending fire season happens in reverse: Slowly but surely each of the districts will end their fire season, and once the last district declares that their fire season is over, it will be over for the entire state.