New rules for fire season

The Department of Forestry, which aided in fighting the Trojan Fire last week, is projecting that the fire danger level will be moderate heading into fire season on Monday. (Courtesy photo)

Fire season opens in Lincoln County on June 17

LINCOLN COUNTY — Fire season begins on Monday, June 17, in the West Oregon District — which includes all of Lincoln County, most of Polk County and Benton County, and small portions of Tillamook and Yamhill counties. New rules limiting smoking, burning and fireworks are in place to help keep down the danger of spark and flames coming off of a series of volatile fire seasons in the west.

In his announcement of the upcoming fire season, West Oregon District Forester Mike Totey he offered a piece of advice regarding humidity and fire danger.

“Thirty percent is a fairly magical number,” said Totey. “While we get fires in many differing conditions, we have way more fires start and get big when RH (relative humidity) drops below 30 percent. Regardless of the activity, consider not doing it when it gets that dry out.”

Totey also explained several changes to the restrictions placed on the public and on industrial operators during this time.

“We are moving to a new system for our Regulated Use (Public Use Restrictions) this year which more closely resembles what districts to the south of us have been using,” said Totey.

Those restrictions prohibit some activities at all times — including smoking in forestlands, burning of debris, using sky lanterns and use of fireworks — while others are allowed at certain times depending on the fire danger level. For example, power saw use is prohibited when the fire danger level is “extreme,” allowed between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. when the level is “high,” allowed between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. when the level is “moderate,” and allowed all day when the level is low. A chart with all of the restrictions can be found on the Oregon Department of Forestry — West Oregon District Facebook page.

There are also changes for industrial operators: for fire watch, the District Waiver will allow a one-hour fire watch in level I, a two-hour fire watch in level II and a two-hour fire watch in level III. This waiver, as with all waivers ODF issues, requires landowner approval.

For more information about fire season and public use restrictions, visit www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/restrictions.aspx. The best place to find fire season updates are the Oregon Department of Forestry — West Oregon District Facebook page and their recorded information line which can be reached at 541-929-3266.

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