Firefighters say they’re seeing more and more grass fires as we inch closer to warmer months. One of the main causes for fires in Southern Oregon during this time of year are private burns that get out of control.
Oregon Department of Forestry is asking rural residents to hold off on burning because of our current dry and warm conditions.
“The smart advice is to postpone burning projects until this fall,” said Brian Ballou, ODF’s public information officer.
Although it has not been declared to be fire season for Southern Oregon the conditions are right for fires to spread quickly. The problem is that spring is usually one of the few times for property owners to clear underbrush and burn fire fuels, creating defensible space around their homes. Ballou says it’s still a good idea to create burn piles and clear underbrush, they are just suggesting you wait until fall to burn.
According to Ballou, if you start a fire that gets out of control you could be help financially responsible for firefighting costs.
As we do get closer to fire season and firefighters warn of an early season, fire agencies are working to solve another problem; fire-fighting during a pandemic.
COVID-19 has caused some changes for structural firefighters already and right now multiple agencies are working to identify ways to best protect firefighters, not only from the dangers of their job but also the dangers of the virus.
“Agencies are looking into what they can do to prepare for that. It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” said Prince.
Ballou shared some of the steps that are being considered and implemented by ODF, “Spacing, reducing the number of people who travel in the same vehicle, wearing facemasks when they’re all in the same vehicle, facemasks possibly when they’re out on the fire line,” said Ballou, “I think it's going to be a plan that's pretty fluid and refined as reality steps in and we try to figure out how to do our best."