Smoke from the Bybee Creek Wildfire drifts over Crater Lake Aug. 1. Central Oregon fire managers warn lightning-started wildfires could strain firefighting resources over the weekend.
Ashley Waymouth/Inciweb.gov via AP
As of Friday, August 5, 2016
Weekend weather forecasts call for lightning, and fire conditions are rated as “extreme” due to dry fuels and warm temperatures, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).
This year fires caused by lightning are significantly fewer than the 10-year average in central Oregon, but human-caused fires are on the rise.
There are currently three large fires burning in Oregon, all human caused. The potential for additional/multiple starts from thunderstorms over the weekend combined with current fires concerns fire managers, ODF reported Friday.
The National Preparedness Level was raised July 25 to Level 3, which means significant wildfire activity is occurring in multiple geographic areas nationwide, and resources in an individual geographic area are likely to not be sufficient if a large fire were to occur.
The increase in human caused fires adds to firefighter fatigue and drains resources which may be needed to suppress non-preventable fires.
“While the 2016 fire season in central and eastern Oregon has started slower than the previous three, human caused fires have dominated the landscape at a cost to all Oregonians,” said Travis Medema, ODF’s eastern Oregon area director. “Those costs are more than just dollars spent fighting the fire, it is impacts to air and water quality and increased exposure for firefighters.”
“We are urging everyone to be safe, mindful of the fire danger, prepared for a wildfire in your community and partner with us to reduce the next human caused fire,” he added.
The following activities are restricted throughout the state:
• Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
• Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, debris burning, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in designated areas. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
• Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one axe, one shovel, and one operational 8-ounce or larger fire extinguisher. In addition, a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
• Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited except on improved roads, and vehicle use by a landowner and employees of the landowner upon their own land while conducting activities associated with their livelihood.
• Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling in a motorized vehicle, except on federal and state highways, county roads and driveways: One shovel and one gallon of water or one operational 2½ pound or larger fire extinguisher, except all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, which must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor in good working condition.
• Mowing of dried grass with power driven equipment is prohibited between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
• Use of fireworks and blasting is prohibited.
In addition to these restrictions the use of tracer ammunition, exploding targets and sky lanterns is prohibited during fire season.