This spring Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and rural fire departments are already responding to a number of escaped slash piles or debris burns. If you reside within a city of rural fire protection district, check to see if there are any restrictions before you burn. ODF currently has no burning restrictions in place.
Caution is warranted to assure all landowners burning debris can safely control the fire they start. If you are considering burning logging slash, contact ODF first. There is a potential risk to the landowner if large piles of logging slash are burned in late winter/early spring. These piles, if not properly extinguished, have a tendency to come back to life in the hot summer months.
"Due to lack of moisture the past few months, fuel conditions are dry. Spring green-up, which helps to retard fire spread, has not occurred yet. Fires are currently occurring this spring causing problems," stated Matt Howard, Assistant Unit forester in Wallowa.
"Make sure any and all burning is done with the utmost caution. This is the time of year to clean up your debris, but I would strongly recommend keeping your fires small and feed them. If a fire escapes control, the responsible party could be held liable for damages incurred and suppression costs. Landowners are encouraged to stay with their fire at all times and assure it is dead out before leaving. If possible, hold off on your spring burning until after spring green-up has occurred."
Before burning debris or slash piles, check the local forecast. The majority of the spring debris burns that escape control are due to wind.
Place your debris pile in a cleared opening away from trees, overhead branches or power lines, and away from structures. Build a "fire line" around your debris pile. While burning, do not leave fire unattended until you are sure the burn is completely out (cold to the touch). Have hand tools, equipment, and water available in case the burn starts to get out of control
Keep checking your piles for heat: a fire can smolder in buried wood for months, surfacing when fire conditions are critical.
If using a burn barrel, make sure the barrel is also in a clearing. hHave screening on the ventilation holes as well. Oregon Department of Forestry has a diagram available displaying what a safe burn barrel looks like. Or, you may pick up a copy at your local ODF office. Visit (http://www.odf.state.or.us/areas/eastern/northeast/fireprotection.htm) for further fire information.
For more nformation, you can contact your local Oregon Department of Forestry in Wallowa at 541-886-2881.