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Weather break lowers fire danger


August 22, 2017

The Oregon Department of Forestry downgraded the fire danger level from extreme to high early last week after a brief respite from hot, dry weather.

Sweet Home Unit Forester Craig Pettinger said that another reprieve is forecast for the end of this week, but long-range forecasts are calling for “hot and stupid.”

Fire activity has been about average or a little above average, Pettinger said. As of Monday afternoon, the Sweet Home Unit had 76 calls.

The number of “stat fires,” those where unit firefighters take significant action, is probably about average, he said. “It seems like we’re getting really quick responses.”

Most of them have been near major roadways and easy to handle, Pettinger said. So far, there haven’t been any big consequences.

“It’s amazing how many of those runs are just the general public doing things they’re not supposed to be doing,” Pettinger said. Just one or two of the calls have been lightning related. The rest are in response to human actions.

Under high fire danger, mowing, grinding, chainsaw use and welding are permitted between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. They are banned during extreme fire danger.

Campfires are prohibited except in designated campgrounds. The use of portable cooking stoves is allowed.

Smoking is prohibited while in forest lands except in vehicles on improved roads, boats in the water and at designated locations.

Possession of firefighting equipment is required when traveling of of state highways, county roads and driveways. Vehicles should carry one shovel and one gallon of water or a fire extinguisher, at least 2.5 pounds. All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must carry a fire extinguisher of at least 2.5 pounds.

Backyard debris burning is banned.

For more information, call the Sweet Home Unit at (541) 367-6108.

– Sean C. Morgan


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