Fire season ends, burn ban lifted

Sean C. Morgan

Fire season officially ended Friday, and the backyard burn ban has been lifted.

Rainfall ended one of the longer fire seasons in the past 20 years, said Chad Calderwood, Forest Protection Supevisor with the Oregon Department of Forestry Sweet Home Unit. “Shorter days and a little rainfall.”

A little rainfall turned into a lot over the weekend, with some 1.62 inches falling, Calderwood said.

A thunderstorm capped off the weekend with heavy rainfall Sunday evening.

The ODF received a report of smoke in the Upper Calapooia area, Calderwood said, but “nothing came of it.”

The Sweet Home Unit responded to 83 calls during the fire season, Calderwood said. Of those, 15 were “stat” fires, which are calls where firefighters take significant action.

Fire burned less than 3 acres in the Sweet Home Unit this year, Calderwood said. “Any time you get under 10 acres is a bonus.”

He credits the low level of damage to the ODF’s relationships with landowners and other fire agencies and to the public .

“I think the public did a great job in awareness,” Calderwood said. “When the levels went up, they called and asked to verify.”

The public also reported fires quickly, he said. “We appreciate that.”

The end of fire season “is a nice reprieve,” he said, noting that the long season had little precipitation.

At the beginning of the season, annual precipitation, based on measurements by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Foster Dam, was running nearly 13 inches behind last year, 25.87 inches on June 25, compared to 38.33 inches on June 26, 2017. That difference grew throughout fire season, with less than 2 inches added to the annual total to date this year. Last year, more than 10 inches fell in the same period.

Last week annual precipitation was more than 20 inches behind last year, with 27.56 inches as of Oct. 22, compared to 48.26 inches on Oct. 23, 2017.

Before burning debris, persons should call the burn line, (541) 451-1904, to make sure it is a burn day.

The ODF should be notified prior to commercial slash burning.