The Dalles, Ore. – Debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires across Oregon, already accounting for seventy percent of the fires this year in the Central Oregon District. These fires damage natural resources and threaten homes and communities. Oregon Department of Forestry’s The Dalles Unit closed burning of forest slash in April and burning of debris piles in Wasco County closed on May 15 to help reduce the risk of uncontrolled fires.
Wasco County and fire districts within, will be implementing a county wide burn ban effective June 15, 2022. This ban includes open burning such as yard debris and burn barrels and is intended to prevent wildfires. Hood River County plans to implement their seasonal burn ban July 1, 2022. Burn bans are imposed based on current conditions, long-term forecasts, as well as historic weather patterns and fuel conditions.
Fire managers welcome the recent rain, but caution landowners that warm temperatures and dry periods quickly dry fine vegetative fuel, making it receptive to fire starts. Fire burning in these fine fuels quickly spreads to both live vegetation and larger fuels which have low fuel moisture due to underlying long-term drought conditions. Any landowner who has burned this spring should revisit their burn site to ensure there is no fire or heat remaining, which could spread to adjacent fuels as seasonal weather returns. It is not uncommon for piles that were burned months ago to have residual heat in them that can cause big problems. Warm temperatures, combined with wind can easily rekindle piles and spread embers outside a burn area.
“We are concerned that recent rain will give landowners a false sense of the risks involved with burning at this time,” says Kristin Dodd, The Dalles Unit Forester.
Alternatives to burning, such as chipping or disposal at a local landfill are encouraged. If burning is the only option, cover the material and plan to burn later this fall after fire season ends and fall rains have reduced the potential for wildfires.
Counties and local fire departments may have additional restrictions in place. Check restrictions in your local area to help prevent wildfires.
For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.