MEDFORD, Ore. -- Fire Season officially begins on Friday for the Southwest Oregon District covering Jackson and Josephine counties, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). The agency first announced the change on Tuesday.
The announcement means an end to open burning on ODF-protected lands in both counties as fire danger restrictions begin.
"You will find that a lot of the departments are very much in favor of this," said Austin Prince from Rural Metro Fire. "Timing is always a question as to whether or not it is the right one. There might be some rain that comes in the next couple of days or whatever. Ultimately in the bigger picture, we are seeing that ODF is concerned about chasing down these fires like the one in Rogue River the other day."
Last year, Fire Season didn't begin until June 1, which is more typical in southwest Oregon.
"Most of the wildfires that ODF has responded to this month were caused by open burning," ODF said. "The district tallied 34 fires that burned 32 acres in the month of April."
Starting May 1, the Fire Danger Level will be Low (green) and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level will be one. On top of an end to open burning, the following fire prevention regulations go into effect on Friday:
- The use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets, which are disallowed on all lands at all times;
- The use of fireworks;
- Smoking in areas with dry vegetation;
- Campfires, except in designated campgrounds and on private lands with the landowner’s permission;
- The use of electric fence controllers must be in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions for grounding and vegetation clearance.
"In addition to unusual seasonal dryness this year, drought conditions have recurred over much of the West," ODF said. "Rainfall amounts in the Rogue Basin are several inches lower than normal, and the extended forecast for fire season conditions calls for continued below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures."
ODF's Southwest Oregon District covers 1.8 million acres of private, state, county and Bureau of Land Management wildlands in Jackson and Josephine counties. For questions about open burning and wildland fire protection regulations, you can call the district office at 541-664-3328.