Fire officials from the Prineville Bureau of Land Management, Deschutes National Forest and Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland are urging the public to use extreme caution while out recreating on public lands this weekend. The National Weather Service is predicting very high temperatures and very low relative humidity over the next several days. The two weather factors, in combination with the potential for thunderstorms, significantly increases the potential for wildfires to start and spread rapidly.
On average, human-caused wildfires make up 87 percent of all wildfires annually, and many of these are preventable. When heading out, please take the personal responsibility to keep yourself, other members of the public and our firefighters safe. Consider the following:
- Know before you go! Campfires in central Oregon are limited to a few open, designated campgrounds. Plan on an alternate method for cooking your food if campfires aren’t allowed.
- If you can have a campfire, bring a shovel and have water available. Make sure the fire is put “dead” out and cold to the touch if no one is there to watch it. That means every night before you go to bed, in addition to when you leave the campsite.
- Avoid parking or driving over vegetation. The hot undercarriage of your vehicle can easily ignite the dry material.
- Avoid smoking in vegetation. Find areas clear of vegetation to smoke, or do so in a vehicle, or building or while standing in the water.
- Always dispose of burning materials properly.
- Double check your trailer chains when heading out. Dragging chains can send sparks into dry grass and ignite a wildfire.
- Practice Leave No Trace principles and bury your toilet paper or carry it out from dispersed areas. Do not burn it.
- Ensure all equipment is operating properly and that safety measures are in place. Improperly working generators, Off-Highway Vehicles and other equipment can easily spark wildfires.
Every year lightning-caused fires place a heavy demand on our firefighting resources, and put our wildlands, our firefighters, and our communities at risk. Wildfires caused through carelessness or negligence only increase the threat to life and livelihood and place an even greater burden on already busy firefighters. As we head into this hot weekend, we need our firefighters available and ready to respond to any new lightning starts. Every human-caused wildfire that’s prevented helps firefighters remain available and rested and helps keep our communities safe.