Help Prevent Wildfires – Please Do Your Part!

It’s everyone’s responsibility to help prevent human-caused wildfires. Keep Oregon Green’s goal is to remind every Oregon resident and tourist to practice basic wildfire safety while visiting Oregon’s scenic areas, and raise awareness of weather conditions, restrictions, and wildfire prevention activities around the state.

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Only two days into summer and Oregon is already experiencing a number of wildfires.

The situation is likely to only gets worse, considering the extreme drought, soaring temperatures and dangerous storms forecast across the region. 

The weather is also threatening to not cooperate in time for the Fourth of July, adding an extra layer of anxiety on an early, and already abnormally active fire season. 

Residents should continue monitoring current conditions and for homeowners to “make sure your house is firewise and safe, and make sure you have a defensible space.” 

It’s also important to be careful with anything that might start a wildfire such as a grill, a hot pipe in dry grass, or a chain that could cause a spark, to name only a few.

Many Oregonian’s burn their backyard debris,but most don’t know that escaped debris burning is the leading cause of human-caused wildfires in our state. ONLY BURN if it is Allowed — Review these tips and learn how you can prevent your debris burn from starting a wildfire.

  • Chip, compost or haul your debris to a recycling center
  • Call your local fire agency or air authority before you burn 
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Clear a 10-foot radius around your burn pile
  • Always have fire tools on site and stay by your burn pile 
  • Never use gasoline
  • Burn yard debris only
  • Make sure your burn pile is completely out 

EQUIPMENT USE

Equipment fires typically rank as the second leading cause of wildfires on state-protected lands in Oregon. Spring is the time to clean up excess vegetation, not during the summer when fuels are dry and susceptible to a spark from a steel blade striking a rock or emitted by a hot exhaust system. Use the right tool for the job and help keep your equipment from starting the next wildfire.

  • Call first to find out if equipment use is restricted 
  • Use gas-powered equipment early in the day. 
  • Use a weed trimmer with plastic line. 
  • Keep the exhaust system in proper working order. 
  • Make sure your gas-powered tools are equipped with approved spark arresters.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or water-charged hose close by.

DEFENSIBLE SPACE

You’ve read the stories, seen the pictures on TV, and heard homeowners talk about the devastation they returned to after a wildfire. Most of that devastation could have been prevented with some planning and a little weekend work in the yard. If you live next to nature, here are a few tips to prevent fires from starting near or spreading to your home.

  • Create a 30-foot defensible space around your home that is free of combustible material.
  • Clean up dead or dying plants, branches, leaves and needles.

Remove debris from under decks, stairs, out of gutters, & off the roof. Trim branches that are overhanging the roof and within 10 ft of the chimney.

  • During fire season, move wood piles 30 feet from the home.
  • Remove flammable plants and replace with fire-resistant species – Fire-resistant plants are those that are loosely branched, have watery sap and supple leaves. For an on-line list of plants, visit: plantshttps://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw590
  • Prune tree branches to a height of 6-10 feet to remove “ladder fuels.”
  • Cut grass to less than four inches – Use the right tool for the job at the right time. A whirling metal blade can strike a rock, cast sparks, and start a wildfire. If you must mow during fire season, do it early in the day when humidity is high and the wind is low.
  • Keep shrubs low and away from the drip line of trees
  • Maintain driveway clearance that is free of flammable debris to allow fire engine access

SMOKING

Be safe, be smart, and make sure your smoking material is out and properly disposed of. Cigarette butts can smolder for hours before touching off a fire. Smoking is your right, BUTT please put it out right.

  • Dispose of smoking materials in deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Make sure butts and ashes are extinguished by using water or sand
  • Never discard butts on the ground or in vegetation outdoors. 

Fireworks

If you are celebrating the 4th of July in Oregon’s outdoors, you’re wise to leave all fireworks at home. Fireworks are prohibited on all Oregon beaches, in parks, and campgrounds, and the use of fireworks is prohibited on all national forestland and most other public lands.

Legal fireworks can only be purchased from Oregon permitted fireworks retailers and stands, and regulations limit where those fireworks may be used. Enjoy fireworks where they belong: on the pavement at home- away from structures, vehicles, and flammable vegetation. Remember the four B’s of safe fireworks:

Be Prepared. 

  • Store fireworks out of children’s reach.
  • -Always read and follow label directions.
  • -Place pets indoors; they’re easily frightened by fireworks.
  • -Always have water handy (a garden hose or a bucket of water).

Be Safe. 

  • An adult should always light fireworks.
  • -Keep matches & lighters away from children.
  • -Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Light only one firework at a time & move away quickly.
  • Keep children & pets away from fireworks.
  • Always remember-do not throw fireworks or hold them in your hand.

Be Responsible. 

  • Soak used fireworks thoroughly in a bucket of water.
  • Dispose of used fireworks & debris properly.
  • Never re-light “dud” fireworks. Wait 15-20 minutes then soak it in a bucket of water

Be Aware. 

  • Use only legal fireworks.
  • Use fireworks only in legal places.
  • Fireworks are prohibited on all beaches, State Parks, & State or Federal Forest lands.

For 80 years the Keep Oregon Green Association has been educating the public on how to prevent wildfires. Beginning its efforts in April of 1941, after public outcry over the human-caused Tillamook Burns, roughly 250 Oregon leaders came together to form a Keep Oregon Green Association. KOG’s mission is to promote healthy landscapes and safe communities by educating the public of everyone’s shared responsibility to prevent human-caused wildfires.

Go to https://keeporegongreen.org/ for more information

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