Wildland fire officials are on alert with a second wave of above normal temperatures expected later this week. Several fires caught people off guard last week after a number of days of unseasonably warm weather. Reports of wildfire activity are coming in from around the state as a sign that fire season may not be too far off. While firefighters in Jackson and Josephine counties snuffed out several small fires last week, a 25-acre fire tested fire crews Friday east of Alsea, about 15 miles southwest of Corvallis.
"Early May is typically not the time we start worrying about fire," says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. "But with the lack of moisture and no real relief in sight, now is the time to start making fire prevention a priority."
Fields says fire prevention works hand-in-hand with spring cleaning around homes. Warm spring weather is the perfect time to clean up around the home and make it less vulnerable to wildfire during the hot, dry summer. But clean-up is often followed by disposal, including debris pile burning in some areas. Fire professionals are asking residents to exercise caution, especially when burning yard debris.
Follow these simple rules when disposing of yard debris:
* Seek alternatives to burning such as chipping or hauling to a landfill.
* Call your local fire department or forest protection agency to see if a burning permit is required. Burning regulations are not the same in all areas.
* Have a shovel and charged garden hose at the burn site.
* Avoid burning during windy conditions.
* Scrape down to mineral soil around incinerators or debris piles.
* Divide large piles into smaller piles. Smaller piles burn quickly and efficiently and are easier to control.
* Stay with the fire until it is completely out.
* Remember, unattended piles can spread quickly out of control. If your debris burn escapes control, call 911 immediately.
Fire season is typically reserved for early June through October throughout much of the state. However, there have been occasional years when the early onset of warm, dry weather has led to an early start. Fire officials are concerned that this early warming trend of above average temperatures and below average moisture could lead to a challenging fire season. Keep abreast of current conditions and fire season regulations online at www.oregon.gov/odf