Prevent wildfires

By Observer Upload August 01, 2012 01:08 pm

There’s gold in them there hills. Not the mineral gold. But lots of dry grass. As July turns to August, the dog days of summer are upon us — and the standard Oregon drought.

That means lots of people heading for the hills to camp, berry pick, climb mountains, fish and otherwise enjoy the great Northeast Oregon outdoors. It also means fire danger crawling up.

People need to be careful with fire on outings — and around their homes. That goes without saying. Every year, however, wildfires break out throughout the West — many of them human caused and easily preventable.

So, what can you do? As a homeowner, living on the edge of the woods, it’s important that you keep your yard mowed and free of debris and that you keep your gutters free of leaves, twigs, pine needles and other combustibles. Experts recommend a 30-foot noncombustible fire break surrounding your home. You also want to have your driveway well marked and accessible to emergency vehicles. 

Campers, meanwhile, enjoying a fire should stick to approved campgrounds. Even then, it’s always good to keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby, and before you leave the area, drown the campfire — and then drown it again.

People using off-road vehicles should never park on dry grass and avoid driving through tall grass.

Smokers should use ash trays.

People running chainsaws should check restrictions and be careful with sparks.

Campers should make sure their kids don’t play with cigarette lighters or matches.

If we all stay vigilant, we can prevent wildfires and keep Oregon, if not green, at least gold.