October 19, 2016

Fire season is over


   The end of the 2016 fire season caps off a successful summer following three tumultuous seasons. The Oregon Department of Forestry, which protects roughly 16 million acres of private, state and federal lands, officially ended fire season Friday, Oct. 14, with the Central Oregon District being the last to lift restrictions. 

   ODF and its fire protective association partners suppressed 807 fires in 2016 that burned 5,554 acres and cost about $17.4 million. In comparison, the volatile fire seasons from 2013-2015 accounted for an annual average of 81,467 acres and about $88 million in fire suppression costs. 

   "Overall, we are pleased with the outcome of the 2016 fire season," said ODF Fire Protection Deputy Chief Ron Graham. "Thanks to aggressive and safe firefighting, we were able to keep several fires with great potential small in scale while keeping firefighter injuries to a minimum. We are thankful for our partners within Oregon's complete and coordinated fire protection system, including forest landowners, rural fire districts, and federal and state partners that played key roles throughout the fire season." 

   While acres burned were significantly less than normal, the number of human-caused fires was well above average. ODF's fire statistics show that more than 90 percent of the ignitions in 2016 resulted from people, up nearly 25 percent from the average. Graham said there is still a lot of work to be done through prevention. 

   "Fire prevention remains our top priority," he said. "Human-caused fires, especially debris burning and illegal, abandoned campfires continue to raise concern. We are constantly looking for new ways to raise awareness to reduce these unnecessary and careless fires." 

   The end of fire season does not mean the end of fire prevention. The public is urged to continue to practice vigilance with any activity associated with fire. When burning yard debris, do so during daylight hours under calm conditions. Scrape a fire trail down to mineral soil completely around burn piles. Keep piles small and manageable, feeding the fire periodically from larger piles. Monitor the burn carefully and keep a shovel and charged garden hose at the ready. 

   Just like a campfire, never leave the burn pile unattended and put the fire completely out before leaving. Revisit the burn site regularly over several weeks to make sure the fire has not rekindled. 

   Burn piles, especially tightly compacted piles, can hold heat and smolder for many weeks, rekindling when the temperature goes up and the wind blows. Residents should contact their local fire department before conducting any burning as restrictions vary among local fire districts. 

   Fire season is declared and terminated on a district-by-district basis based on fire danger conditions. Walker Range Fire Patrol, which provides protection for ODF near Crescent, was the first to declare fire season on June 1. 

   Below is a list of ODF Fire Protection Districts and their fire season start and end dates: 

- Walker Range Fire Patrol Association June 1-Oct. 13 
- Central Oregon District June 3-Oct. 14 
- Klamath-Lake District June 3-Oct. 13 
- Southwest Oregon District June 3-Oct. 13 
- Douglas Forest Protective Association June 8-Oct. 5 
- Coos Forest Protective Association June 24-Oct. 6 
- Northeast Oregon District June 28-Oct. 13 
- South Cascade District June 28-Oct. 5 
- Western Lane District June 28-Oct. 6 
- North Cascade District June 30-Oct. 1 
- West Oregon District July 5-Oct. 4 
- Northwest Oregon District July 30-Oct. 4

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