Fire season may be over but wildfires can still occur. These lovely autumn days have been wonderful for working on pre-winter yard projects, and many people have been burning piles of tree branches and other woody debris. Unfortunately, several debris pile fires have gotten out of control recently, requiring fire suppression assistance from the Oregon Dept. of Forestry and structural fire districts.
Before burning, call the county burn line to make sure it is a burn day. In Jackson County, the number is (541) 776-7007. In Josephine County, call (541) 476-9663. Also, make sure to get a burn permit from your structural fire district, if required, before striking the match.
To keep burn pile fires under control:
• Make sure the pile is in a place where flames and heat won’t catch adjacent vegetation, structures or other burnable debris on fire. As a rule of thumb, the open space around a burn pile should be twice the distance of the pile’s height.
• Check that there aren’t overhead wires or branches that will melt or ignite from the heat rising from the burn pile fire. Allow an open space above the pile that is at least three times the height of the pile.
• Have water, a shovel and a rake close at hand. If you’re running a garden hose to the burn pile site, add enough extra hose to extend at least 25 feet beyond the pile.
• Never leave a debris pile fire unattended.
• Before nightfall, put the fire completely out, and check it again the following day.
• If the fire escapes control, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Information about wildfire prevention is available online at www.swofire.oregon.gov and at ODF Southwest Oregon District unit offices:
• Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd.; (541) 664-3328
• Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr.; (541) 474-3152