Fire danger jumps to extreme in Southwest Oregon

, Posted: Fri, July 18 2014 at 12:49 PM, Updated: Fri, July 18 2014 at 1:06 PM

Fire danger jumps to extreme in Southwest Oregon

Southwest Ore. -- A long period of temperatures hovering around 100 degrees has cooked southwest Oregon vegetation into a tinder-dry condition. The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District is raising the fire danger level to “extreme” (red) at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 19.

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) will remain at Level 2 (two).

The primary difference between current fire prevention regulations and those taking effect tomorrow affects power-driven equipment, such as chain saws and mowers. Power-driven equipment will be required to shut down at 10:00 a.m. instead of 1:00 p.m. And users of other power-driven, spark-emitting equipment, such as wood splitters and generators, must also shut down at 10:00 a.m. Equipment use may resume after 8:00 p.m. In all cases, a fire watch of at least one hour should take place after the equipment is shut down.

Also, there is a fire prevention regulation being added prohibiting the use of sky lanterns on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Here are the details of the adjusted and new regulations taking effect tomorrow:

• Chain saw use will be prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.  Chain saw use will be permitted at all other hours, if the following fire fighting equipment is present with each operating saw: one axe, one shovel, and one 8-ounce or larger fire extinguisher.  In addition, a fire watch will be required at least one hour following the use of each saw.
• The cutting, grinding and welding of metal will be prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.  These activities will be permitted during other hours if conducted in a cleared area and if a water supply is present.
• The mowing of dry or dead grass with power-driven equipment will be prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. This will not apply to the mowing of green lawns, or the use of equipment for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
• The operation of any other spark-emitting machinery not specifically mentioned above will be prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
• The use of sky lanterns will be prohibited.

The following fire prevention regulations are currently in effect and will remain in effect until the fire danger level drops significantly:

• Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
• Debris burning is prohibited.
• Burn barrel use is prohibited.

• Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in approved fire rings at designated campgrounds.  In other locations, portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.

• Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads or for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.

• Use of fireworks is prohibited.
• Any electric fence controller in use shall be: 1) Listed be a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and 2) Operated in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions
• Use of exploding targets is prohibited.
• Use of tracer ammunition or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base is prohibited.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, contact the unit office in your area:

• Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. Phone: (541) 664-3328
• Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Drive, Grants Pass. Phone: (541) 474-3152

Southwest Oregon District fire prevention regulations are also posted online at www.swofire.com.

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