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Commissioner on Coos forest: 'We don't want people out there putting themselves at risk'

(KCBY image)

COOS COUNTY, Ore. – County commissioners this week announced the temporary closure of all Coos County Forest land to the public.

Commissioners made the emergency move because of the extreme fire conditions.

The commissioners said the same extreme fire conditions that led to fires throughout the state also exist in Coos County.

Commissioner John Sweet says the Coos County Forest is more open to the public than most forests, and that comes with a risk.

The county is not willing to chance another catastrophic wildfire.

"We don't want people out there putting themselves at risk, putting our neighbors to the forest at risk by starting a fire and, most of all, we don't want to risk that very valuable asset that the county has. It's very important to us financially."

Sweet said the forest will be re-opened when it is safe to do so.

Additionally, for the first time in more than a decade, the City of Coos Bay is imposed a ban on open burning.

Fire restrictions have been in place in Coos County since June, but burning was allowed in the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend until the Labor Day weekend.

Open burning includes yard debris, burn barrel fires, and open camp fires.

Dry weather and poor air quality prompted the ban.

"Because of the fires burning all over the state, primarily east of I-5 but all over the area, there's a lack of resources so if something were to get out of hand we'd be hard pressed to find additional resources," said Coos Bay Fire Chief Mark Anderson.

The ban will continue until fire conditions improve.

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