February 22 2018
While central Oregon is in a pattern of cooler than normal weather, and has received precipitation over the last twenty-four hours, fire danger remains high. The US Drought Monitor for Oregon issued on July 7, 2016, indicates that most lands within the Central Oregon District (COD) fall into the "abnormally dry" category. This reflects what fire managers are seeing in the forest and current fuel moisture conditions. Now into Oregon's fifth year of drought conditions, we continue to see the long term affects to the down material and live vegetation stressed from limited water.
For the next few days firefighters will benefit from the moisture, because it will be more difficult for a "spark" to ignite a fire and rapidly spread. This is because of the increased moisture in the fine fuels, but these fuels will quickly dry out even with the moderate temperatures expected over the next few days. "The biggest concern for us now, during the heart of fire season, is that someone assumes the rain has made it safe to burn. When surrounding fuels dry out in the days following a debris burn, the remnants of that debris burn rekindle and spread to wildland fuels while no one is watching", states Mike Shaw, Central Oregon District Forester.
Debris burning is not allowed on lands protected by the Central Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry. Contact information for your local ODF Office can be found on ODF's Central Oregon District website: www.ODFcentraloregon.com. COD remains in a Regulated Use Closure intended to reduce human caused fires. Year to date there have been thirty-six human caused fires within the District, primarily related to debris burning. This number is significantly higher than the ten year average of twenty-eight (for the same time period). These fires are preventable, causing concern for firefighters and fire managers. While fire managers have the ability to use modern technology to track thunderstorms and staff with additional resources, human caused fires do not allow that as they occur at random times.
Please report fires to your local 911 dispatch center.