August 19, 2011
Contact: Jamie Paul, Oregon Dept. of Forestry – No. Cascade District, 503-829-2216
MOLALLA – Warm, dry weather has prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to increase fire safety restrictions in the North Cascade Forest Protection District beginning Wednesday, Aug. 17. The North Cascade District protects private, State and some Federal forestlands in portions of Multnomah, Clackamas, Marion and northern Linn counties. A regulated use closure is now in place for all private and public lands within the ODF protection boundary. Most summers, these restrictions would already be in place, but this year’s weather allowed for a delay.
Fire season officially started July 13 and although the dry summer weather has been late in coming this year, vegetation has now had time to dry out and the fire threat is in full force. The decision to institute the regulated-use closure in the region was based on the continued drying of wildland fuels, and forecasted weather patterns calling for warmer and drier weather with no measurable precipitation in the foreseeable future.
“The message right now is that we’ve had a delayed start to fire season and because of that, people have gotten complacent about fire danger,” said Christian Paul, protection supervisor for the ODF Molalla Unit.
Several recent fires in the Molalla, Colton and Clarkes-Highland areas have caused concern for ODF fire managers. One fire took off quickly in dried grasses and threatened a nearby barn. For all-wood buildings, ODF recommends keeping nearby vegetation well-trimmed and putting a few feet of rock between the building and the grass.
“I think one of the take-home prevention methods ODF would recommend is for homeowners to keep vegetation lean and green around their houses and structures,” Paul said.
Another fire was caused by juveniles. ODF reminds parents to stay aware of their children’s activities during the summer months and to reinforce the message that fire, matches and lighters are “tools, not toys.”
The stepped-up restrictions include the following:
1. Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water, and on sand or gravel bars that lie between water and high water marks that are free of vegetation.
2. Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at designated locations. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
3. Chainsaw use is prohibited, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., in areas subject to Industrial Fire Precaution Level I and II. Chainsaw use is permitted at all other hours, if the following firefighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one ax, one shovel, and one operational 8 oz. or larger fire extinguisher. In addition a fire watch is required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
4. Chainsaw use is prohibited in areas subject to Industrial Fire Precaution Level III and IV.
5. Use of motorized vehicles, including motorcycles and all terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads or for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
6. All motor vehicles must be equipped with one gallon of water or one operational 2-½ lb. or larger fire extinguisher, one ax, and one shovel, except when traveling on state highways and county roads and driveways. All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must be equipped with one operational 2-½ lb. or larger fire extinguisher, except when traveling on state highways and county roads.
7. Use of fireworks is prohibited.
8. Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited between the hours of 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is permitted at all other hours, if conducted in a cleared area and if a water supply is present.
9. Mowing of dried and cured grass with power driven equipment is prohibited, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., except for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
10. Blasting is prohibited, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
11. Use of exploding targets is prohibited.
12. Any electric fence controller in use shall be: 1) Listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and 2) Operated in compliance with manufacturer instruction for fire safe operation.
For more information, contact your local Oregon Dept. of Forestry office. In Molalla, call 503-829-2216. In Lyons, call 503-859-2151.