Extreme fire danger alert for Central Oregon

Forestry officials warn of extreme fire danger in central Oregon
Oregon Department of Forestry

Wildfire is often in the news in central Oregon at this point in the summer. But so far it has been an afterthought. That is expected to change soon, with the onset of extreme fire conditions that could propel a small fire start into a major incident.  Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) officials caution that while the cool, wet weather in spring and early summer delayed the inevitable, fire season has truly arrived in the region.

“Conditions in the forests and rangelands of central Oregon are extremely dry,” ODF’s George Ponte said. “An errant cigarette, an unattended campfire or a lightning strike could easily ignite a large fire.”

The Central Oregon District Forester said that without any significant precipitation, burning conditions will only worsen over the next several weeks before the fall weather pattern moderates the fire threat somewhat.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate so far this season in that we’ve not had any catastrophic fires and we’d like to keep it that way,” he said. “Large fires threaten public and firefighter safety, destroy property and natural resources, and are extremely expensive to suppress, and that hits everybody in the pocketbook.”

ODF is asking everyone to be extremely careful while working or recreating outdoors. Given the dry conditions, it would be very easy to accidentally cause a fire.

The following restrictions are currently in effect on private and public lands protected by ODF:

* Smoking is prohibited while traveling in the forest
* Open fires are prohibited except in designated areas
* Mowing of dried grass with power equipment is prohibited between hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
* The use of timber harvesting or forest fuel-reduction equipment using high-speed rotary heads or flails is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
* The cutting, grinding, or welding of metal is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. When conducting these activities during permissible times, the area must be cleared of flammable vegetation.

More information on restrictions and current conditions is available at: www.oregon.gov/odf/centraloregon or by contacting your local Oregon Department of Forestry office.

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