Warm weather and dry conditions have prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to tighten fire restrictions in Northwest Oregon starting July 19. The "regulated-use closure" rules will place limits on a variety of activities that could ignite a wildfire , such as campfires, smoking and use of chainsaws. The Astoria, Tillamook and Forest Grove districts are encompassed by the stepped-up fire safety rules going into effect at 1 a.m. on Friday.
"Conditions in the forest have reached the point when we typically see fire starts," said Don Everingham, assistant to the Northwest Oregon Area director. "We haven't had a really significant event yet, but fuels are drying and the extended forecast is for hot, dry weather."
The following fire safety rules take effect July 19 on all private and non-federal public forestlands within the three districts:
- Smoking prohibited while traveling, except in closed vehicles on improved roads.
- Open fires prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at designated locations. Use of wood-burning devices, used in conjunction with temporary dwellings, including tents and trailers, is prohibited. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
- Non-industrial use of chainsaws is prohibited between the hours of 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one shovel and one operational 8 oz. or larger fire extinguisher or suppressant. A chainsaw must have a spark-arresting screen with a maximum mesh size of .023 inches. A fire watch is required for one hour following the use of a saw.
- Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads and in designated areas. The motor vehicle ban is waived in the following locations: Rogers, Jordan Creek and Trask basins; Diamond Mill and Nicolai Mountain OHV areas; and Nestucca Trail areas.
- Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling, except on state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one operational 2-1/2-lb. or larger fire extinguisher.
- Use of fireworks is prohibited.
- Use of tracer ammunition, exploding targets and sky lanterns is prohibited.
The rules are subject to change on short notice as wildfire danger varies. For that reason, it is advisable to check with the local Oregon Department of Forestry office just prior to traveling to the forest. ODF offices and contact information can be found at: www.oregon.gov/odf/