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Fire season a time for caution



The Oregon Department of Forestry has suppressed 301 fires so far in 2015 and 227 were started by people, according to an agency report.

ODF stated that “much of the state is experiencing fire danger conditions normally seen in late July and August.”

Despite the increased fire risk, restrictions on burning are following the same schedule as last year.

At this time, there is no burning within the city limits of The Dalles. Burn barrels are allowed with permits in the rest of Wasco County.

However, beginning Tuesday, June 30, there will be no burning anywhere within the district, according to Dan Hammel, fire marshal for Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

With this weekend’s heat wave, he cautions people to take preventative measures by being observant of fire restrictions.

While it may seem obvious to be careful while lighting flames, agencies say fires have also been started with unassociated activities.

Tom Fields, ODF fire prevention coordinator, said, “We have had three fires related to target shooting just in the last week.

“These fires, and the fact that we have already had 80-plus human-caused fires above the average for this time of year is an indication that we need everyone to think twice before conducting any spark emitting activity.”

Hammel said the prediction in 2015 is for a longer and more active fire season than seen for a long time, but “it’s a guessing game.”

He said the fire season will be unpredictable, but what is known is that, “Our fuels are dry, and they’re going to get even drier.”

His advice for the next two weekends is to “Be aware and cautious.” And the same advice applies for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

Last year, there were two large fires caused by people lighting fireworks. “And by large, I mean several acres,” said Hammel.

If residents want to light fireworks, he said they need to be legal.

Fireworks bought across the river in Washington are not allowed back in Oregon. Even the possession of illegal fireworks warrants a citation, said Hammel.

He said the violator is responsible for damages, which “can get very expensive very quickly.”



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