Fire season starts today

Written by Kelly Ducote / The Observer July 01, 2013 10:16 am

 Department of Forestry declares fire season for Northeast Oregon under way

A couple of rainy weeks in June were not enough to delay the start of fire season this year.

Oregon Department of Forestry fire managers declared that fire season for Northeast Oregon began at 12:01 this morning due to the hot and dry weather in region.

Unit Forester Joe Hessel said the start of fire season depends on fuel conditions (dryness) and weather.

“We were considering going into fire season earlier than normal this year — in late May actually — due to the very dry and warm conditions at that time, but the cool and rather wet June allowed us to delay the onset until more traditional timing,” Hessel said.

Fire season applies to private lands protected by the ODF in Northeast Oregon, about 1.9 million acres. Landowners and members of the public, who recreate or work on those lands, should be mindful of what fire season means.

“In broad terms, the fire season declaration means that burn permits are required for all open burning (except campfires) and for burn barrels,” Hessel said. Additional requirements apply to industrial operations such as logging. Permits can be obtained at any regional ODF office.

Landowners who burned slash piles last fall and this spring are advised to check the piles to make sure they are out and heat is gone. Any campfires must be dead out during fire season, so recreationists are encouraged to make sure fires are fully extinguished before leaving them.

Hessel said the ODF will implement a second level of restriction called regulated use closure later in the season when “conditions have reached a point that they are trending toward the extreme side.” This usually happens in late July or August and generally bans all burning.

With warmer and dryer falls extending fire season into October the last few years, it is possible that will be the case again.

“This may be somewhat of a trend developing,” Hessel said.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.