Wildfire danger prompts burn ban, starting July 5

Washington County – A NW Oregon and Washington County-wide burn ban will go into effect on July 5 at 1 a.m. in an effort to reduce the danger of wildfire during the 2018 fire season. 

The burn ban will mean that no backyard, agricultural, or land clearing or slash burning is permitted.

The ban was enacted by the Washington County Fire Defense Board in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Forestry. 

Recreational fires are such as small backyard fire pits with a maximum size of 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high are allowed, as are outdoor and portable fireplaces. Oregon-legal fireworks are also permitted. 

All recreational fires must be constantly attended until the fire is fully out, and the area around the fire should be cleared of vegetation and any materials that could catch fire. 

Failure to comply with these requirements during the burn ban could result in a bill being sent to anyone held liable for an illegal fire for firefighting and property damage costs.

Additionally, in lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry, which includes the Tillamook State Forest and most of the forests surrounding Gales Creek and along Highway 6, additional restrictions are in place. These include:

  • No open fires except in designated locations
  • No fireworks
  • No use of exploding or tracer ammunition
  • Non-industrial use of chainsaws is prohibited between 1 and 8 p.m.
  • Smoking is not allowed while traveling unless you are in an enclosed vehicle on an improved road

In a press release issued on Tuesday, July 3, Oregon Department of Forestry officials urged members of the public to use caution when traveling in the forest, including taking preventative measures such as carrying a shovel and either a fire extinguisher or at least one gallon of water.  

In the NW Oregon Forest Protection Association, which includes much of the forestland in and around Gales Creek, fire season for industrial use already began on June 26, which restricts the use of power tools and fire-driven machinery to only certain conditions as outlined in ORS chapter 477 and OAR chapter 629 divisions 41 to 43.

The burn ban will remain in effect until weather conditions have minimized fire danger in the region.

Firework safety

Recent wildfires in the region and across the state, including two on Monday, July 2 that Forest Grove Fire & Rescue say were likely caused by fireworks, have heightened warnings by fire officials to use caution with fireworks. 

“Although the causes of many of these recent wildfires are still being determined,” says State Fire Marshal Jim Walker, “it serves as a stark warning of the extremely dry conditions throughout the state and the risk that just one spark may create.”

According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), there were 318 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon during 2017.

The OSFM encourages the use of the “Four B’s” of safe firework use: 

  • Be Prepared before lighting fireworks: keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket.
  • Be Safe when lighting fireworks: keep children and pets away from fireworks.
  • Be Responsible after lighting fireworks: never relight a dud. Wait 15 to 20 minutes then soak it
    in a bucket of water before disposal.
  • Be Aware: use only legal fireworks and use them only in legal places.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has asked the public to only call 911 for firework issues if there is an actual fire or injury; for other firework-related calls, such as reporting illegal firework usage, the public is asked to call the Washington County non-emergency dispatch line at 503-629-1111.

For more information about what activities are permitted in ODF-protected lands, call the Forest Grove District offices at 503-357-2191.