Fire danger is high | News


Itemizer-Observer Report

DALLAS — Fire officials warn residents to not burn during the stretch of warm, dry weather that is forecast to last through the end of the week.

Backyard burning is banned, and agricultural burning is strongly discouraged until Sunday, according to an announcement from the Polk County Fire Defense Board released on Monday afternoon.

The announcement said the decision was based off the forecast of moderate winds, higher temperatures and low humidity. Conditions will be re-evaluated on Monday.

“Be aware of the potential of a rekindle on any piles that you may have previously lit,” the announcement read. “If you lit piles within the last month, take the time to ensure that they are 100% out.”

Though not banned, agricultural burning, defined as “burning of agricultural waste generated by an operation that uses, or intends to use, land primarily for the purpose of obtaining a profit by raising, harvesting, and selling crops,” is discouraged.

Residents are urged to contact their local fire agency for more information on agricultural burning.

The restrictions in Monday’s announcement include:

• Backyard burning

• Agricultural burning is strongly discouraged, contact your local fire agency for special situations.

• Land clearing or slash burning.

“Individuals found to be in violation of these requirements during the burn ban may be held liable for the cost of putting out a fire and for any property damage resulting from an illegal fire,” the announcement said.

Federal agencies have independent jurisdiction and authority to regulate recreational fires on their lands so this ban does not apply to the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management-regulated lands, according to the announcement.

“Those living in rural areas are asked to maintain their defensible space by monitoring growth surrounding homes and structures, and to maintain adequate access for firefighting equipment,” the announcement said.

Last week, a fire on a property in Dallas illustrated why burning now is so dangerous.

Just after 10 a.m. April 13, Dallas Fire & EMS and Southwest Polk Rural Fire Protection District were dispatched to fire calls — Dallas to the area of Southwest Applegate Trail and Southwest Hazel and SW Polk to Cochran Lane — which they later discovered was the same fire.

The fire agencies worked together to contain the fire. The area on fire was previously an orchard that is currently under proposed development. Approximately five acres were burned.

According to Dallas Fire, they later discovered the property owner had been burning this area over the last couple of days. With the high winds and dry conditions, the fire grew beyond the control of the property owner.

Several homes in the area were threatened and fire crews focused efforts on structure protection.

“No one thinks their burn pile will be the one to start a fire. This fire today is a prime example and thankfully no homes were burned and no one was injured. Please be aware of the current risks and consider holding off on your debris burning until after the next rain or look for alternatives to burning,” the Dallas Fire said in a press release.

Oregon Department of Forestry and city of Dallas Public Works assisted in the fire response.

More tips to prevent fires

• Know fire risks and obey fire restrictions, such as campfire bans.

• Avoid parking or driving on dry grass as hot vehicles can start a wildfire.

• Vehicles are required to have a shovel and fire extinguisher or at least a gallon of water in many areas.

• Do not use candles, fireworks, tiki torches, or other open flames in wildland areas.

• Remember that sky lanterns are illegal in Oregon airspace.

• Dispose of smoking material in deep, sturdy ashtrays.

• Make sure cigarette butts and ashes are extinguished with water.

• Never discard cigarette butts on the ground or in vegetation.

For more wildfire prevention information and restrictions, visit Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org and the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov.



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