CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Fire Season officially begins May 12 in Jackson and Josephine counties, the Oregon Department of Forestry announced Monday. The change means the beginning of fire danger restrictions and closures on ODF-protected lands in southwest Oregon.
At the outset, the fire danger level will be "Low" (green) with the Industrial Fire Precaution Level at level one. These regulations apply to 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city, and federal forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.
"Since the beginning of March, the district has responded to more than 50 fires, totaling more than 100 acres; warm temperatures, windy conditions and a lack of spring rain are among the contributing factors that increased fire starts and growth," ODF said. "Fuels across the region are also much drier than normal, reflecting late June-like conditions in mid-May. For these reasons, fire season is being declared in Jackson and Josephine counties."
Starting Wednesday, debris pile burning and use of burn barrels will be prohibited in Jackson and Josephine counties. ODF pointed to multiple escaped debris burns that crews have responded to over the past several weeks. Landowners are asked to check previous burn piles to confirm that they are completely extinguished.
In low fire danger, the following activities are prohibited:
- No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels.
- No fireworks on or within 1/8 of a mile of forestland.
- Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.
- Campfires are allowed in designated campgrounds, and on private land with the landowner’s permission. Portable stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels may be used as well.
- Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations.
- 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.
Under IFPL I (one) – fire season requirements are in effect. In addition to the following:
- A Firewatch is required at this and all higher levels unless otherwise waived.
ODF is set to follow suit in Klamath and Lake counties on Saturday, May 15 — officially beginning Fire Season regulations in those areas. For Klamath and Lake, the fire danger level will begin at Moderate (blue) with IFPL at level one.
“Where we are at with fuel conditions, lack of spring rains, extreme and exceptional drought, and continuous fire activity in Klamath County, Lake County, and around the state, Klamath-Lake District will be declaring fire season on Saturday, May 15th at 12:01 a.m.” said Randall Baley, Protection Unit Forester with ODF. “The total package of conditions all adds up to make the public aware of the situation and minimize the potential for human-caused fires.”