ALERT: As of Wed. June 1st, we are now in fire season, as announced by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry on 5/27/22.
All open/outdoor burning is now prohibited. This includes the burning of debris or slash piles and the use of burn barrels.
Complete regulations are posted on our Current Fire Restrictions page.
The Oregon Department of Forestry issued the following News Release on Mon. 5/9/22:
Wildfire Awareness Month: Prevent wildfire; Wait for the right time to burn debris
SALEM, OR – The Oregon Department of Forestry and other fire prevention experts urge the public to exercise caution when disposing of yard debris this spring. The drought conditions this year put Oregon at a higher risk of wildfire.
May is Wildfire Awareness Month, which is a great time to trim trees, bushes, and tidy up plants around your home that could catch fire. This is what we call creating a “defensible space” around your home and property. As you begin spring clean-up, the Oregon Department of Forestry and Keep Oregon Green urge you to consider alternatives to burning.
Preferable options aside from burning include composting or recycling. Check with your local disposal company for recycling options. You can also cover a part of the pile with plastic to keep it dry until the fall when it’s safer to burn. Delaying your burn plans will give the debris more time to cure and avoids spring holdover fires as fire risk increases with hotter, drier weather.
“We expect this year to be another dry fire season, so the more we can reduce human-caused fires the better,” said Mike Shaw, Fire Protection Division Chief. “Fire prevention is something that all Oregonians should have at the forefront of their mind. Humans cause the majority of Oregon’s fires, but they can also prevent them.”
Seventy percent of wildfires in Oregon are human-caused fires, with debris burning being the number one cause. By waiting to burn or taking extra steps to control a fire, Oregon can significantly reduce the risk of creating a large wildfire.
If burning now is the only option to dispose of yard debris, fire prevention specialists ask people to follow safe burning practices. The following tips can help stop run-away burn piles:
Call before you burn – Burning regulations vary by location depending on the weather and fuel conditions. If you are planning to burn, check with your local Oregon Department of Forestry district, fire protective association, fire department, or air protection authority to learn about current burning restrictions or regulations, and if you need a permit.
Know the weather – Burn early in the day and never burn on dry or windy days, because fires can spread out of control more easily.
Clear a 10-foot fuel-free buffer around the pile – Make sure there are no tree branches or power lines above
Keep burn piles small – Large burn piles can cast hot embers long distances. Keep piles small, maximum of four feet by four feet. Add debris to the pile in small amounts as the pile burns.
Always have water and fire tools nearby – When burning, have a charged water hose or a bucket of water, and shovel on hand to put out the fire. Drown the pile with water, stir the coals, and drown again, repeating until the fire is out cold.
Stay with the fire until it is out cold –State laws requires monitoring of debris burn piles from start to finish until it is out cold. This law is intended to ensure sparks or embers that jump from the fire can be put out quickly.
Recheck burn piles. They can retain heat for several weeks and restart when the weather warms up and winds blow.
Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids to start or speed up your fire.
Burn only yard debris – State laws prohibit burning materials or trash that create dense smoke or noxious odors.
Costs of run-away debris burns– State law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires all year. If your debris burn spreads out of control, you may have to pay for suppression costs, as well as the damage to your neighbors’ properties. This can be extremely expensive.
More tips on wildfire prevention, including campfire safety, motorized equipment use, and fire-resistant landscaping can be found on the Keep Oregon Green website.
Find public use restrictions for Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands before your burn.
Outdoor natural debris burning is subject to state and local fire safety regulations.
All open (outdoor) burning is prohibited during fire season. This includes but is not limited to the burning of natural debris, woody or vegetative organic materials or forest slash (private logging operations), and applies to the use of all types of burn barrels as well as to all open burning.
Typically, there are no restrictions within our district on open and barrel burning during the "off-season," i.e., during the wet season in the fall once fire season has ended, during the winter, or in the spring before fire season officially begins again.
A caveat must be added here: Due to the changing climate, the southern Oregon (and northern California) region has been seeing longer "dry" seasons and hence, longer fire seasons; in recent years, high or extreme fire danger conditions have existed before and after the official start or end of fire season. Our region is experiencing an increasing number of fires started by escaped controlled burns, even at times during the wet season when the prospect of a burn escaping control seems very unlikely.
Because of this and the need to respond to actual local fire danger conditions, open burning restrictions for our district can begin earlier than fire season officially begins, and can extend beyond the official end of fire season in the fall.
Watch our fire danger indicator sign areas in the district for posted open burning regulations, as well as for the start of fire season. (Postcard notices are not normally sent out about either of these changes). Open burning is always prohibited once fire season begins, if it is not prohibited before then.
Permits & Air Quality Regulations:
The Colestin Rural Fire District does not normally require a permit for burning. Check with us first, though: Because of dry conditions and escaped slash burns during the past several springs, we have been requiring a burn permit prior to fire season once it gets dry and warm.
Watch our fire danger indicator sign areas in the district for "Permit Required" notices when fire season is not in effect but the weather is warm and dry.
When permits are not being required in our district, we also ask that you notify CRFD Fire Chief Steve Avgeris at 541-488-1768 or (cell#) 541-821-8339 before you conduct a burn, in order to avoid false alarm calls.
Please note that careless burning is the cause of many wildfires and nuisance (and serious) smoke problems.
The ODF states that both Jackson and Josephine counties have telephone numbers to call to find out whether air quality conditions allow for burning; the number to call in Jackson County is: (541) 776-7007. See above for more information.
BEFORE conducting an open burn:
Consider no-burn options. Woody debris can be disposed of at Biomass One in White City and Murphy and at the transfer station in White City for no charge. Or choose alternatives such as chipping, mulching, or composting.
Burn piles should be at least 50 feet from structures and 500 feet from any forest slash.
Clear the area around the burn pile of any flammable material.
Connect a water hose or have at least 5 gallons of water, and a shovel at your burn site. Having additional hand tools on site that can be used for managing and controlling your burn is always a good idea.
Please contact us before you burn. Even in wet conditions, we would still appreciate a call, so we don't waste resources on a false alarm if someone else reports your burn as a fire.
When conducting an open burn:
Burn when the winds are calm or light. If trees sway, flags are extended, or waves appear on open water, it is too windy.
Start early in the day, when temperatures are coolest.
Burn only natural vegetation.
Burn only one pile at a time. Preferably hand-feed it to control size and minimize escape.
Maintain a connected water hose or at least 5 gallons of water and a shovel on site, as well as any other needed tools.
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry summarizes the key points for safely conducting open burning:
"Debris burn piles should have at least a 10-foot radius clear of other vegetation with nothing above it, such as branches or power lines. During the debris burn, never leave your pile unattended. A water source, such as a large bucket of water or a charged garden hose should be nearby, along with a shovel. The pile should be kept small; if at any time it begins to grow, it should be extinguished immediately. When finished, ensure the pile is completely out, and check it throughout the next week for any heat in the area." [ODF 10/25/19 news release]
NEVER LEAVE WHILE CONDUCTING A BURN: Attend the fire until it is completely extinguished.
Remember that most escaped burns are not the result of ignorance, lack of procedural know-how, or intelligence, but mere carelessness.
Regardless of the reason, if your burn gets out of control, call 9-1-1 immediately. (We get called, along with any needed outside agency back-up.)
For further information, see Keep Oregon Green's website section on Backyard Burning. The same principles given for burn barrels apply to open burning of slash or natural debris piles.
For more industrial-scale slash burning, see Forestland Slash Burning.
If you have any questions or concerns about burning, regulations or permits, please contact us.