Oregon Dept. of Forestry urges caution with spring debris burns

Spring is often the time when landowners work to clean up vegetation and yard debris around their property and is the perfect time for cleaning gutters and removing leaves and needles from rooftops to reduce risk of wildfire damage to homes and buildings.

However, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Prineville Unit reminds landowners to be cautious if they plan to burn that material.

Weather in the spring can often be erratic and winds can pick up suddenly, fanning flames and dispersing embers into dry vegetation nearby.

Many communities have programs which allow for chipping and disposal of these types of materials at low or no cost to landowners.  ODF encourages landowners to take advantage of these “No Burn” opportunities such as FireFree Events throughout Central Oregon.

Event dates for 2021 can be found here, https://www.firefree.org/firefreeevents/.

Landowners planning to burn yard debris, material from fuel reduction projects, and other commercial forest slash this spring in Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties should obtain a burn permit from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and/or follow burning instructions from their local fire department.

Operators and landowners burning forestry slash or fuel reduction materials should complete burning according to the instructions on their burn permit to reduce risks of escaped burns and the rekindling of burn piles later in the season when wildland fuels have dried out.

Below are some tips to reduce the risk of a fire getting out of control.

  • Check weather forecasts.  Avoid burning on windy days or when wind is forecast to be erratic or increasing.
  • Check with local fire department and county restrictions to be certain burning is allowed and what restrictions should be followed.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.  Be certain the fire is completely out prior to leaving.
  • Have a water source and shovel available while burning.
  • Keep debris piles small.  Add material gradually as the pile burns down.
  • Ensure burned piles are cold prior to adding new material for future burning.
  • Contact 911 immediately if the fire gets out of control.

Landowners can be held financially responsible for the costs of putting the fire out and any damage caused by fire if they are found to be negligent while burning.

The responsible party can also be cited for an uncontrolled fire.

Debris burning includes field/pastures and irrigation ditch burning intended to reduce thatch as well as other agricultural type burning.

For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

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