Thursday, August 17, 2017

2017 Solar Eclipse Safety

With the eclipse taking place during the peak of wildfire season, please keep fire prevention a top priority. Remember that idling cars over dry grass and careless acts with smoking, campfires, fireworks and target shooting can easily spark a wildfire. Here are some prevention tips from Keep Oregon Green!  

Wildfire prevention
• Know fire risks and respect fire restrictions, such as campfire bans.
• Avoid parking or driving on dry grass as your vehicle can start a wildfire.
• Vehicles are required to have a shovel and fire extinguisher or at least a gallon of water in many areas.
• Do not use candles, fireworks, tiki torches, or other open flames outdoors.
–– Sky lanterns are illegal in Oregon airspace.
• Smoking materials:
–– 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.
• During a wildfire, there are three levels of evacuation:
–– Level 1 – Ready: Pack your valuables.
–– Level 2 – Set: Monitor the news reports.
–– Level 3 – Go: An official notice from the sheriff’s office or fire agency to evacuate.
Even through southwest Oregon is not in the path of totality, there will be hundreds of thousands of additional drivers on I-5 during the days leading up to and after the eclipse. It is up to everyone to prevent wildfires and to practice these safety measures during this time. 

Please For more information on wildfire prevention and fire restrictions, visit

Monday, February 6, 2017

Kitchen Fire Safety

Winter is the season when people spend more time in the kitchen cooking and preparing meals. Sounds like business as usual, right?  The kitchen is the place where more home fires occur than anywhere else in the house.  The American Red Cross has a list of steps to follow to prevent a fire incident in the kitchen.  Before looking at their list below, follow this link to their Cooking Safety Quiz to test your knowledge about safe cooking practices!

1. Never leave cooking food unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen, even for a second, turn off the stove.
2. Check your food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking.
3. Use a timer so you’ll remember that the stove or oven is on.
4. Don’t wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
5. Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
6. Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.

Fire safe home practices are everyone's responsibilities.  When your kids are old enough to cook, teach them the safest and most responsible ways to use equipment, and always be close by to supervise. Set a good example and always follow the same safety precautions when you are cooking. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Prevent Chimney Fires

Winter is the season when warmth is the top priority in the house.  Many of us use wood burning stoves and fire places to heat our homes, but these heating implements can also be the cause of a very serious house fire. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to properly maintain their wood burning stove to insure that it is safe to use. Here are some tips from Nationwide Insurance for preventing a chimney fire:

1. Make sure your wood burning stove is properly installed and has proper venting.

2. Perform a monthly inspection on the chimney.

3. Use dry, seasoned wood.
Hardwoods are the best fuel for a wood stove. Wood should be air dried for at least a year before burning.

4. Clean the stovepipe and chimney at least once a year.
Use a wire brush to clean your stovepipe and chimney or hire a professional to do the job.

5. Avoid creosote buildup.
Creosote is highly combustible and can condense along the walls of the stovepipe and chimney if the fire is not burning at hot enough temperatures. Creosote can be in many forms, sticky, flaky or a hard glaze tar.

For more detailed information, please visit:

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.