Why you may see more controlled burns this fall

SALEM, Ore. — Cool, rainy weather has allowed the first controlled burns of the season to begin across the state, and with new rules concerning smoke, it may allow more burns than in the past.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said increasing the number of burns will help reduce the public safety risk from the buildup of fuels in the forests.

Prescribed fires are lit when weather conditions will minimize smoke getting into smoke-sensitive areas. The old rule used to be zero smoke could be visible in a sensitive area. Now, a smaller amount of smoke is allowed when burning, so long as it doesn’t get so smoky that air quality is “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

They say the new rules will make it easier to burn near populated areas that are naturally kept healthy by having periodic fires. “Take out that woody debris,” said ODF Public Information Officer Jim Gersbach, “so that when should there be a natural source of ignition or a man-made fire accidentally start, that that creates a much lower intensity, lower risk kind of fire.”

ODF said when it comes to burning, dry piles producer far less smoke than wet ones, so they encourage people to keep their piles covered until it’s time to burn.

Once fire season ends, you’ll still need to check with your local fire agency for any burning rules.

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