PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the weather heats up and more people head outdoors to recreate, The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has asked the public not to get complacent about fire safety.
As fire season has already kicked off in parts of the state like Eastern Oregon, ODF warns that as temperatures increase, the threat of wildfires rises with it.
“Oregonians love the outdoors, and they love recreating,” said Jessica Prakke, Public Affairs Officer with ODF. “So, I would say any forest is at risk because as more humans are going through those forests starting campfires, all of that adds a level of risk automatically.”
Wildfire season has already begun to impact the West, as the Willowcreek Fire claimed 330 acres in Eastern Oregon last week and the Washburn Fire continues to blaze through California’s Yosemite National Park.
In preparation for this year’s fire season, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland wrote a letter to Wildland Fire Leadership in April, stating that, “we are on the brink of conditions where wildfires overwhelm response capabilities … Last year, nearly 59,000 wildfires burned more than 7.1 million acres of land across the United States.”
Although the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has allocated nearly $4.5 billion to the Department of Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help expand wildfire mitigation, response, and recovery efforts over the next five years, ODF told KOIN 6 News it is on everyone to prevent wildfires.
“We hope Oregonians aren’t being complacent when it comes to wildfire prevention,” Prakke said. “We just want to make sure that everyone is aware that it is the responsibility of all Oregonians to prevent wildfires and be responsible while they’re recreating this summer.”
Some fire safety tips Oregonians can use to help stay safe and reduce the risk of wildfires this summer include, removing dead and overgrown vegetation from porches, decks, and cutters, drowning, and stirring campfires until they are cold to the touch before walking away, and keeping up with fire restrictions and burn bans before burning.
According to ODF, although each district determines when their prospective fire seasons start based on fuel conditions, fire behavior, and weather, once a fire season is declared, burns and exploding targets are prohibited.
A full list of ODF fire season restrictions is available at www.oregon.gov/odf/fire.