Fire danger falls to moderate

Sean C. Morgan

A small dose of rain and shorter days have pushed the fire danger down to moderate from high in the last week.

The Oregon Department of Forestry Sweet Home Unit measured .13 inches of rain on Thursday and .08 on Aug. 31.

“That’s kind of hit-and-miss on the south end of the valley,” said Forest Protection Supervisor Neil Miller. Northwest of Sweet Home, Oregon saw a solid three-quarters of an inch of rain in places.

It was enough to move the fire danger downward, although the Industrial Fire Precaution remained at Level II, ending work in the woods by 1 p.m.

The regulated-use closure remains in effect, allowing the use of chainsaws and mowers prior to 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on ODF-protected lands, including private and public lands outside of the city limits. Permits are still required for campfires outside of designated fire rings.

The burn ban remains in place.

“Based on our meteorologists, we’re kind of in our normal fall weather pattern,” Miller said. Forecasters predict another small shot of moisture on Thursday, but the forecast is showing the temperature rising back into the 90s by the weekend.

The burn window, the time during the day when fire is more active, is getting shorter, Miller said.

Fire season restrictions and the burn ban will remain in effect until “we get significant moisture,” Miller said. It’ll take 2 to 4 inches before fire officials will consider changing things.

The ODF has responded to 44 fire calls so far this year, and it has had few statistical fires – those calls where ODF takes action, Miller said. Firefighters have seen a number of power line fires and human-caused fires.

In the past couple of weeks, the largest fire has been a 1/100th acre fire in the Lava Lake area on a piece of private property managed by Cascade Timber Consulting, Miller said. The neighboring U.S. Forest Service responded with an engine from Marion Forks in the Detroit Ranger District. Sisters also responded, and they had the fire out by the time the Sweet Home Unit arrived after detouring the Sheep Creek Bridge blockage.