SOUTH COAST — The public is being asked to help mitigate fires this season as lands in Jackson and Josephine Counties enter extreme fire danger, or categorized as “red.”

According to a press release from the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District, firefighters were kept busy last week responding to two large fires in the district. At the same time, these firefighters responded to simultaneous small fires that “were caught and contained early,” the release said.

“While we are prepared to handle multiple incidents at once, we appreciate help from the public to mitigate potential fires and associated risks,” the release said. “However, multiple prohibited debris burns in the past couple months have been called into our dispatch centers, and firefighters have been required to respond to these rural addresses, educate the landowner, and extinguish the pile.”

The release pointed out that since Fire Season started June 1, these crews have issued 46 warnings and one citation related to debris burns or burn barrels.

“Not only is this activity currently illegal, it takes away firefighting resources we have from an active incident, some that are currently threatening homes,” the release said. “As of Monday, August 5, 2019, lands protected by ODF in Jackson and Josephine Counties will be in Extreme Fire Danger.”

This means the risk for fire increases and can spread fast. The release reminded the public that this also means:

  • Debris burning is prohibited. This includes burn barrels.
  • Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water, and designated locations.
  • Open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except in approved fire rings at designated campgrounds. In other locations, portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed.
  • Motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, may only be used on improved roads free of flammable vegetation, except when used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops.
  • Fireworks are prohibited on or within 1/8 of a mile of forestland.
  • Any electric fence controller in use shall be listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services; and operated in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • The use of exploding targets is prohibited.
  • The use of tracer ammunition or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base is prohibited.
  • Possession of the following firefighting equipment is required while traveling, except on state highways, county roads and driveways: one shovel and one gallon of water or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher. All-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must be equipped with one 2.5 pounds or larger fire extinguisher.
  • “Additionally, the following restrictions will go into effect on Monday, Aug. 5,” the release said, listing:
  • The use of power saws is prohibited.
  • The cutting, grinding and welding of metal is prohibited.
  • The mowing of dry or dead grass is prohibited.
  • The operation of any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine not specifically mentioned above is prohibited.

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Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.