May 17, 2016 4:20 a.m.
May is Wildfire Awareness Month and the ideal time to reduce the excess vegetation around your home that could pose a wildfire threat.
Officials with Keep Oregon Green, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon State Fire Marshal urge people to consider chipping or recycling their yard debris. If burning is the only option to dispose of woody material, they want people to be sure it’s done safely.
Escaped debris burns are the leading human cause of wildfire issues in Oregon, particularly during the early and late season periods when people think it is safe and permissible to burn. In 2015, backyard debris burns that escaped control resulted in 133 wildfires burning 224 acres at a cost of nearly $381,000.
Oregon experienced severe fire seasons in 2013-2015. Extreme conditions those three years set the stage for any debris burn that got away to spread quickly. A burn pile is less likely to escape control is these tips are followed:
*Call before you burn. Checking burning restrictions and whether or not a permit is needed.
*Know the weather forecast. You should never burn on dry or windy days.
*Clear a ten foot radius around the fire .Make sure there are no tree branches or power lines above.
*Keep Your Burn Pile Small. A large burn may cast hot embers long distances.
*Always have water and fire tools on site. That includes a charged garden hose, bucket of water, a shovel and dirt nearby to extinguish the fire.
*Stay with the fire until it is completely out. Monitoring a debris burn continually from start to finish is required by state law.
*Never use gasoline or other accelerants to start or increase an open fire.
*Burn only yard debris. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors.
Escaped debris burns are costly. A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. If your debris burn spreads out of control, you are responsible for the cost of fire suppression and very likely the damage to neighboring properties.
More tips on wildfire prevention are posted at www.keeporegongreen.org.