Fireworks, campfires may be restricted due to dry weather
CORVALLIS, Ore. - From the woods to local neighborhoods, a dry spring means an increased fire danger in Western Oregon.
The City of Eugene may restrict the use of fireworks to protect park lands and homes in the South Hills.
And fire officials on area lands managed by the USDA Forest Service said tinder dry conditions have primed area forests to burn.
"This may very well be a year where extraordinary measures are needed to protect our community," said Doug Perry, Assistant Fire Marshal for Eugene.
Those measures may include restricting or even banning legal fireworks, he said. Fire and City of Eugene officials are considering a ban on fireworks use in the South Hills and Spencer, Skinner and Willagillespie buttes as well as limiting the dates fireworks may be discharged in the remainder of the city.
A decision on these possible restrictions will be made by June 24.
Homeowners can protect their property by building a defensible space. For more information, visit www.firewise.org or call the Eugene Springfield Fire Marshal's Office at (541) 682-5411.
Fire danger is unseasonably high outside of neighborhoods on public lands, too.
On the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon's Coast Range, public affairs specialist Katie Sapp said the moisture content in the forest is unseasonably low.
She said the thousand hour fuels category is at about 34 percent saturation right now, down from 47 percent this time last year.
"With hotter and drier weather this spring, we are seeing fires earlier than usual," said fire management officer Dan Eddy.
Sapp said firefighters have already had to put out numerous small fires in the Siuslaw National Forest this year.
Currently, there is not a campfire ban, but Sapp said if dry weather continues officials might be forced to put one in place.
For now, she said visitors to the forest should use extra caution while enjoying the natural spaces.
Siuslaw National Forest outlined some guidelines for visitors:
- Keep camp fires small
- Only burn material that fits within the campfire ring
- Extinguish all campfires before leaving
- Only smoke in cleared areas at least four square feet wide
"We really don't want a big fire to happen here," said Sapp.