LAKEVIEW, Ore. – Fire officials with the agencies of the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) ask those spending the Fourth of July holiday enjoying federal, state, or private wildlands to help prevent wildfires.
As a reminder fireworks are prohibited on federal land and are not allowed under the current Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Public Regulated Use Closure.
Fireworks can cause costly and dangerous wildfires, especially when conditions are hot and dry, and vegetation is receptive to sparks. Fires caused by fireworks on public lands may result in the user being cited and billed for the cost of fire suppression.
Even small fireworks like sparklers and poppers can start a fire.
With an early start to fire season, drought conditions, hot temperatures, and winds, it doesn’t take much of a spark or heat to start a fire which can grow several acres in minutes.
“As early as March, we have seen wildfires that started small and grew extremely fast into large incidents, resulting in evacuations, structures lost, and property and resources damaged,” said Randall Baley, Protection Unit Forester of ODF. “We ask everyone to be extra vigilant and follow safety precautions to prevent human-caused wildfires.”
Visitors to public and private wildlands should always use caution to prevent human-caused wildfires. To reduce the risk, it’s advised to do the following:
- Before going camping, check fire restrictions in place and never leave a campfire unattended. Build campfires in cleared open areas and keep water and a shovel nearby. Make sure campfires are out and cool to the touch before leaving the area.
- Consider alternatives to a campfire, such as a portable camp stove.
- If you are using charcoal, make sure you drown and stir them, repeating until they are cold to the touch.
- Smoking should only be in a closed vehicle or fire-safe area and always dispose of cigarette debris in some type of an ashtray. Check local Use Regulations for specific rules.
- Avoid driving and parking in tall grass or on roads with heavy, fine fuel accumulations. Exhaust particles, hot exhaust pipes and hot catalytic converters can start grass fires in a matter of seconds. Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on exposed wheel rims can throw sparks.
- Secure chains properly from trailers or other equipment. Sparks from dragging chains, and exhaust from ATVs and motorcycles, can start grass fires. Spark arresters are required on all recreational and portable gasoline-powered equipment.
- Carry firefighting equipment in vehicles, including a shovel, at least one gallon of water or one 2 ½ pound or larger fire extinguisher.
“Even though it’s June, the fire danger is already High,” said Interagency Deputy Fire Management Officer Trent Wilkie. “It’s critical that before heading out to recreate, check the latest fire restrictions and make sure to follow them.”
Currently within the SCOFMP area, fire restrictions include:
- Public Regulated Use on ODF protected lands. For more information, please visit https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/restrictions.aspx
- There is a Fire Prevention Order from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for all lands managed by BLM within a half mile of Keno Dam, downstream to the Oregon/California border. For more information on this Fire Prevention Order, please visit: https://scofmp.org/files/BLM-PUR.pdf
- Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) is a Level II on Forest Service and BLM lands.
For the latest fire restrictions and regulations, visit https://scofmp.org/restrictions.shtml
Over the past week, SCOFMP wildland fire resources have responded to 46 confirmed lightning fires. These incidents are scattered across the landscape and are on lands under the protection of ODF or the federal agencies in the SCOFMP area. The largest of these fires was 36 acres.
Detection flights are continuing in the area to look for smoke from lightning fires. These resources are being shared to increase capacity throughout Southern Oregon. As conditions dry out in coming days, it is expected more lightning fires will be discovered. SCOFMP wildland firefighting resources are prepared to respond.
While some of the storms brought rain, fuels are still extremely dry, closer to conditions found in late July or August. Temperatures are forecasted to bring potentially record-breaking heat in the 90s and 100s by the weekend over much of the area. The public is asked to use extreme care with anything that can spark a wildfire.
SCOFMP agencies see an increase in abandoned campfires around holiday weekends, including Fourth of July. The public is asked to take extra precautions while enjoying their public lands.
“Fourth of July is a popular weekend for outdoor recreation, especially in the forest,” Wilkie said. “We want everyone to have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday weekend. That starts by preventing wildfires, which is even more critical under this year’s conditions.”