Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fire Season is over, but Fire Prevention NEVER STOPS!

Oregon Department of Forestry fire officials are officially ending the 2016 fire season on Southwest Oregon District-protected lands Thursday, October 13 at 12:00 a.m.

The conclusion of fire season is a result of cooler temperatures and continued rainfall throughout Jackson and Josephine counties.

The fire prevention regulations put into effect on June 30 will no longer be enforced. This impacts 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands in Jackson and Josephine counties.
Although fire season is coming to a close, it does not mean that there is no danger of wildfire. The end of fire season eases restrictions on activities that often can start a fire but does not relieve a person of responsibility for their actions.
Residents need to remember that it is everyone’s responsibility to practice fire prevention protocol. When burning or using any type of fire in the woods or yard, make sure to be in attendance and maintain control of your burn at all times. Clear above and around your burn, with firefighting equipment nearby as a precaution. Residents should contact their local fire department before conducting any burning as restrictions vary among local fire districts.
The firefighters and staff at the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District would like to thank all partnering agencies, support staff and the public for their continued cooperation this fire season.
For more information, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
·         Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
·         Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152
Information is also available online at

Monday, August 15, 2016

Extreme Fire Danger Regulations Take Effect August 15

Very dry conditions in southwest Oregon’s forests and wildlands makes it necessary for the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District to shut down public use of power-driven and spark-emitting internal combustion engines starting Monday, Aug. 15, at 8:00 a.m.

The pubic regulated use fire danger level will be “extreme” (red) but the Industrial Fire Precaution Level will remain at 2 (two).

These regulations affect the 1.8 million acres of state, private, county and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Below are the public regulated use restrictions that take effect Monday:

  • Chain saw use will be prohibited;
  • Mowing of dried and cured grass with power driven equipment will be prohibited, except for the mowing of green lawns, or the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops;
  • Cutting, grinding and welding of metal will be prohibited;
  • The use of any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine will be prohibited.

The following public regulated use restrictions are currently in effect and will remain in effect:

  • Debris burning is prohibited;
  • Burn barrel use is prohibited;
  • Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads;
  • Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at designated locations. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed;
  • Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles is prohibited, except on improved roads;
  • Use of fireworks is prohibited;
  • Any electric fence controller in use shall be: 1) Listed be a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and 2) Operated in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Use of exploding targets is prohibited;
  • Use of tracer ammunition or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base is prohibited;
  • Use of sky lanterns is prohibited.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s public regulated use regulations, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:

  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2016 Fire Season

News Release
Oregon Department of Forestry
Southwest Oregon District

June 1, 2016

Oregon Department of Forestry                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Southwest Oregon District                                       SOUTHWEST OREGON NEWS MEDIA         5286 Table Rock Rd.
Central Point, OR 97502

Contact: Brian Ballou, (541) 665-0662 or (541) 621-4156

Fire Season on ODF-Protected Lands Begins June 3

Fire Season on ODF-Protected Lands Begins June 3 Fire season begins Friday, June 3, at 12:01 a.m. on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District. Lands affected by this declaration include state, private, county, city, and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The public regulated use fire danger level will be “moderate” (blue) and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level will be 1 (one).

Last year, fire season started on June 5 and ended October 28. A total of 255 fires burned on lands protected by the Southwest Oregon District, and blackened 347 acres. More than 200 of those fires were started by people and 53 fires by lightning. According to the 10-year average of fires on the district, 230 fires may burn more than 5,600 acres during fire season.

The 2016 fire season may be another very active one. A good snowpack in the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mountains recharged most of the southwest Oregon region’s reservoirs, but may have little positive effect on wildfire activity in the district, most of which covers lowelevation grass and brush lands and mid-elevation forests. Residual snowpack is at higher elevations on national forest and national park lands.

While spring was reasonably wet, it was also 6-8 degrees warmer than normal. Abundant grass and weed growth across the district will provide plenty of fuel for wildfires, once the vegetation fully cures. In addition, tree mortality from the drought has left numerous dead and dying trees scattered across the landscape. These may moderately increase the severity of forest fires in some parts of the district.

Beginning Friday, the burning of debris piles and the use of burn barrels for burning debris will no longer be allowed. Other public regulated use restrictions on ODF-protected forestlands include:

    • No fireworks;
    • No tracer ammunition or exploding targets;
    • No sky lanterns. 

Under Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1 on ODF-protected lands, commercial operations, such as timber harvesting conducted on forestlands, will be required to have fire suppression equipment on the job site at all times. A watchman must also be provided.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:

    • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
    • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152 
Fire season information is also available online at 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Prevent Your Campfire From Becoming a Wildfire

Sitting around a campfire is one of the special times we all enjoy, but campfires are also a major cause of wildfires. May is Wildfire Awareness Month, and Keep Oregon Green, the Oregon State Fire Marshal, and the Oregon Department of Forestry urge Oregonians to follow these basic outdoor safety tips:

  • KNOW BEFORE YOU GO – Call your local forestry or fire district to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions at your recreation destination. An interactive map of Oregon’s fire restrictions is available Tom Fields, ODF’s fire prevention coordinator, said the map continues to improve and is “an excellent tool for folks to use from home or from their mobile device.”
  • KICK THE CAMPFIRE HABIT THIS SUMMER – Portable camp stoves are a safer option to campfires at any time of year. Areas that prohibit campfires outside maintained campgrounds with established fire pits often will allow the use of camp stoves.
  • SELECT THE RIGHT SPOT – Where campfires are allowed, avoid building the fire near your tent, structures, vehicles, shrubs or trees, and be aware of low-hanging branches overhead. Clear the site down to mineral soil, at least five feet on all sides, and circle your campfire with rocks. Store your unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
  • KEEP YOUR CAMPFIRE SMALL – A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances. Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.
  • ATTEND YOUR CAMPFIRE AT ALL TIMES – A campfire left unattended for only a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Staying with your campfire from start to finish until dead out is required by state law, to ensure that any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly.
  • NEVER USE GASOLINE or other accelerants (flammable or combustible liquids) to start or increase your campfire. Once the fire is ignited, wait until the match is cold and then discard it in the fire.
  • ALWAYS HAVE WATER AND FIRE TOOLS on site – Have a shovel and a bucket of water nearby to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals with the shovel, and drown again. Repeat until the fire is DEAD out. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
  • Burn ONLY wood – State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors.
  • ESCAPED CAMPFIRES can be costly – State law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires any time of year. A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. But by far the biggest potential cost of having your campfire spread out of control is liability for firefighting costs. You are responsible for the expenditures on fire suppression, which can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

During Wildfire Awareness Month visit the Keep Oregon Green website, for other wildfire prevention tips.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Strategies for a Fire-Safe Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday ranked #6 behind Thanksgiving, Christmas and Memorial Day in 2013 as having the largest number of home fires on a particular day. According to the National Fire Protection Administration, 590 home cooking fires occurred on Super Bowl Sunday in 2013. That’s a 25% increase over the average number of fires on a typical day!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tells us that Super Bowl Sunday is also the second biggest day of the year for food consumption! So if you’re planning to whip up some tasty snacks for this year’s game, make sure you add kitchen fire safety “plays” to your line up.

What’s the best way to do that? The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) offers a handful of great tips below that are easy to follow:

1. Kitchen HuddlePrepare your cooking area. Use back burners or turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Move things that can burn away from the stove. Keep a timer handy and use it when you’re roasting or baking.

2. Penalty FlagFrying poses the greatest risk of fire. Keep an eye on what you fry. Start with a small amount of oil and heat it slowly. If you see smoke or if the grease starts to boil in your pan, turn the burner off. Even a small amount of oil on a hot burner can start a fire.

3. DefenseStay awake and alert while you’re cooking. Stand by your pan. If you leave the kitchen, turn the burner off. Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet nearby in case you need to smother a pan fire.

4. Illegal ContactPrevent burns when you’re cooking. Wear short sleeves, or roll them up. Don’t lean over the burner. Use potholders and oven mitts to handle hot or steaming cookware.

5. Defensive LinemenChildren need constant adult supervision. If you have young children in the home, keep them three feet from anything that can get hot, including the stove. Put hot objects and liquids beyond a child’s reach so they can’t touch or pull them down. Never hold a child when you cook.

6. Touchdown!Keep safety in mind when serving on game day, too. If you burn candles, position them out of reach of children and away from anything that can burn. Consider using flameless candles that are lit by battery power instead. Food warmers and slow cookers get hot. Place them toward the back of the serving table so they won’t get knocked off. Provide hot pads to prevent burns. Light the chafing dish fuel can after it is placed under the warmer. Make sure nothing comes in contact with the flame. If young children are in your home, supervise them and keep matches and lighters locked away.

For more fire safety information, visit USFA's webpage. Additional resources can also be found on NFPA's Cooking Fire Safety web pages.

Enjoy the game, everyone, and please stay safe!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Heating Safety Tips

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
[ Sources: National Fire Protection Association, the U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency ]

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Many January House Fires Caused by Dry Christmas Trees

With the holiday now behind us, O Christmas tree, how saggy are your branches? The gifts have been removed from under the pine, the tree is swiftly losing its coat of green, and the needles are piling up on the floor, which means it’s time to remove the tree from your home.

Christmas trees are very flammable, dry out the longer they remain in the home, and can be consumed by fire in a matter of seconds.” All trees can burn, though dry ones can be engulfed by flames significantly more quickly.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics indicate that nearly 40 percent of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. Although these fires are not common, they are much more likely to be serious when they do occur. On average, one of every 31 reported home structure Christmas tree fires resulted in a death. Compare that to an average of one death per 144 total reported home structure fires.

Christmas trees are decorations, and people may want to continue the festive spirit and leave up their ever-drying pines long after the last of the gifts have been opened. It’s good to remember, however, that the longer the tree remains in the home, the greater the fire risk becomes.

We hope that by educating people about the extreme fire hazards, people will be prompted to remove their trees in a timely manner, giving their families the gift of fire safety as the season winds down!

If available, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program for tree disposal. Trees should not be put in the garage or left outside.

NFPA also offers tips on removing lighting and decorations from trees to ensure they are taken down safely this year and in the right condition for Christmas 2016:
  • Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
  • As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.
For additional resources and information for a fire-safe winter season, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.”

[ This article is from the National Fire Protection Association's website at }