MEDFORD, Ore. — As overall dry conditions continue to hold sway in southern Oregon, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has decided to increase the fire danger level in Jackson and Josephine counties to "moderate" (blue), starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning, June 23.
Upgrading the fire danger level means a list of additional burn restrictions for southern Oregonians. According to ODF, those restrictions impact 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands—all of which fall under the ODF Southwest District's protection.
The fire danger level in southwest Oregon has been set to "low" (green) since fire season started at the beginning of this month. Even at this level, there were certain restrictions:
• No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels.
• No fireworks on forestlands.
• Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.
Beginning Saturday, the move to a "moderate" fire danger level will add quite a few more:
• Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations.
• Open fires are prohibited which includes campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at locations deemed a designated campground. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are still allowed.
• Chain saws may not be used between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. During hours outside of this time frame, chain saws may be used but require that the operator have one shovel and one 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the work site. A fire watch is also required for one hour after each chainsaw use.
• Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. These activities will be allowed during hours outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
• The mowing of dead or dried grass with power-driven equipment is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. This restriction does not include mowing of green lawns, or equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
• Motorized vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, will be allowed only on improved roads free of flammable vegetation. One shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling.
• Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling, except on state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one 2½ pound or larger fire extinguisher. As noted above, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must be equipped with one 2½ pound or larger fire extinguisher.
• Any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine use not specifically mentioned is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. Use of any sparkemitting internal combustion engine is allowed outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site.
• Any electric fence controllers must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be installed and used in compliance with the fence controller’s instructions for fire safe operation.
Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the ODF's fire restrictions may contact them at either of their Southwest District offices:
Medford Unit — 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
Grants Pass Unit — 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152