SALEM, Ore. — Campfires will be banned in all state parks and state-managed forests east of Interstate 5 starting Thursday, the Oregon Department of Forestry has announced. Officials said that the ban comes from the extreme fire danger and limited firefighting resources across the western US.
The ban applies even to designated campfire pits, and includes charcoal fires, cooking fires, warming fires, charcoal briquettes, pellet grills, candles, tiki torches and any other devices that emit flames or embers.
"This ban covers all state-managed parks and forestlands east of Interstate 5, and includes prohibitions on fires in designated fire rings," ODF said. "The public can also anticipate restrictions in other areas based on fire danger. Restrictions may increase as fire danger rises in other parts of Oregon and will remain in place until conditions moderate."
State agencies strongly encouraged checking fire danger levels and any associated restrictions in an area before visiting or traveling through.
"With hot, dry weather expected to continue, no relief forecasted in the foreseeable future, and several large fires on Oregon's landscape, the step of banning campfires east of Interstate 5 was deemed a necessary measure to protect life and property in what is already a very challenging and dangerous fire season," ODF said.
The agency underlined that, in times of high fire danger, having the capacity on hand to respond quickly to new fire starts is critical. Humans are responsible for 70 percent or more of fires in Oregon on average, and these restrictions are expected to help reduce the number of human-caused fires, allowing firefighters to focus on the ongoing large fires and any new starts.
"We are seeing record-low humidity in much of the state, and as forest fuels dry out there is tremendous potential for fire to establish and spread quickly," Oregon State Forester Nancy Hirsch said. "With months of fire season left, this measure will help us prevent one of the most common types of human-caused fires, which reduces the risk to our communities and natural resources."