OREGON — Although cool and damp weather has helped to calm the wildfire threat in recent weeks, the fire danger is forecasted to rise in the coming days in addition to the temperatures. Humidity levels and fuel moistures will be decreasing and this is a concern with the 4th of July approaching.
The Oregon Department of Forestry urges recreationists heading outdoors to be mindful of common fire causes such as off-road driving and riding, campfires, smoking and specifically this time of year, fireworks.
Even if the forest is not completely bone dry come this Independence Day, the temperatures generated from fireworks can instantly ignite grass, tree needles and brush. ODF strongly urges all individuals to leave the fireworks at home this holiday.
Many wildfires begin from campfires. When selecting an area to camp out, avoid areas near buildings, fallen trees, tree trunks or low overhanging branches. Scrape all leaves and litter away from the site, at least five feet on all sides. Dig your pit in the center of this circle and surround it with rocks.
Build your campfire downwind and a safe distance from your tent. Never leave your fire unattended, and once it has been lit, be sure to throw the match into the fire. It’s a good idea to keep a shovel or rake handy, in the event that any sparks escape the fire.
When leaving the site, going to bed or back to town, be certain the fire is out! Drown all embers, sticks and coals …especially those that may have fallen underneath the rocks. Stir the coals to make sure all heat has been removed. Then dowse the area again.
Other threats come from four-wheel-drives, ATV’s and motorcycles. Their exhaust systems with just a few seconds in contact with dry grass can allow for a flare to start and easily spread into a wildfire minutes later. Stay on established roads and trails, and be sure to park on gravel surfaces or developed roadside pull-outs to avoid this possible scenario.
A burning cigarette thrown into vegetation will most certainly create a fire, but with a delayed start. Smoke and flames will not appear until long after the smoker discards the cigarette. It is very important to safely dispose of smoking materials.
It’s possible fire safety restrictions in the forest change with the warm and dry weather that is expected. These include rules for campfires, off-road vehicle use and other activities. Check the rules before you head out.