July 29, 2016 10:30 a.m.
The State of Oregon will be billing the person responsible for last year’s Stouts Creek Fire.
Kyle Reed of the Douglas Forest Protective Association says it was a year ago when what the agency is calling “a careless act” sparked a wildfire near Milo that changed the course of the summer for firefighters, community members and landowners. Reed says that multiple homes in the path of the fire were evacuated as the blaze went on to burn thousands of acres of timberland and “critical wildlife habitat”. That fire became known as the Stouts Creek Fire.
Reed says that investigators determined that the fire was human caused and related to an individual mowing dry grass. They determined that the person violated Public Use Fire Restrictions by mowing dry grass during prohibited hours. Under Oregon law, those found to be willful, malicious, or negligent in the cause and spread of a wildfire, are liable for the complete cost of the fire. That means the Oregon Department of Forestry will be billing that person for the cost of suppressing the fire, which is estimated to be in excess of $37 million dollars.
Melvin Thorton, District Manager for the Douglas Forest Protective Association says its critical thateveryone living, working or recreating in wildland areas know and follow the Public Use Restrictions that are in place throughout the summer. Thorton says that people found to be in violation of the regulations will be cited and if a fire results from their actions, may be held liable for all fire suppression costs.
Right now Public Use Restrictions are in effect throughout the entire Douglas District and include restrictions on mowing dry grass, non-industrial chainsaw use, the cutting, grinding and welding of metal, off road driving, campfires, debris burning, fireworks, smoking and electrical fence controllers. State law also prohibits the use of exploding targets, tracer ammunition and sky lanterns during fire season. For a detailed list of restrictions, go to www.dfpa.net.
The Stouts Creek Fire ignited on July 30th of 2015 and went on to burn over 26,000 acres of private, BLM, and National Forest Service lands.