Preventing Human-Start Fires

Preventing Human-Start Fires This Summer

Contributed by Alison Green of Project Wildfire 

Thanks to an excellent snowpack and regular spring rainstorms, the Central Oregon fire season didn’t start as early as it had in previous years and wasn’t underway until late July.

However, a late start doesn’t mean we’re in the clear, yet.

The month of August is jokingly referred to as “Dirty August” by firefighters since that is when the bulk of fire activity occurs. Even though Mother Nature certainly plays her part with naturally occurring fires, the amount of human-caused fires has dramatically increased from past years.

To date there have been 502 human-caused fires in Oregon since the beginning of the year; the 10-year average is 364 (Source: Oregon Department of Forestry). The impact of human-started fires is even more notable when compared to the meager 146 lightning-started fires this year.

Our local fire agencies have declared that we are now in extreme fire conditions. Being prepared for fire season with defensible space around your home and creating a clear evacuation plan is vitally important for Central Oregon residents, but before there’s smoke on the horizon, we need to remain vigilant at preventing human-start fires.

Residents and visitors can prevent human-start fires by abiding by all regulated use closures during fire season on both public and private lands. These regulated use closures can include:

Ensure the fire ring area is cool before departing.

Ensure the fire ring area is completely cool before departing.

  • Fully extinguish campfires before leaving. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Check local restrictions before starting a campfire to be certain campfires are allowed.
  • Do not burn debris during fire season.
  • Shut down chainsaws and other power tools by 1 pm.
  • Avoid parking hot vehicles on dry grasses.
  • Check trailer chains to ensure they are not dragging on the road, which could cause sparks.
  • Do not use tracer ammunition or exploding targets.
  • Carry fire tools and a fire extinguisher when traveling in the forest.

Ultimately, fire preparedness and fire prevention are up to each resident and visitor of central Oregon. By doing our part to prevent wildfires on public and private lands, we ensure the safety and efficiency of our firefighters. That is something worth fighting for.


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