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Canby Fire Division Chief Matt English warns that even with rain in forecast, burn ban is still in place

The sky has been boasting some clouds and sprinkles, and there's more rain in the forecast, but don't start up those burn piles just yet.

According to Canby Fire Division Chief Matt English, this year's fire season has been a bit slower than usual with only a couple of significant area fires to speak of.

"Because we've been on the prevention side, advising everybody real diligently to not burn, I think that's helped us out a lot," English said.

COURTESY PHOTO: CANBY FIRE - Canby Fire responded to a fire sparked by debris being dumped from a truck. In the picture is the Battalion Chief 360 vehicle.

English said he has even worked with the Department of Environmental Quality this year to identify opportunities to educate area residents on what is and isn't legal to burn, and he said everyone he has worked with has been receptive.

"We definitely appreciate everybody being so responsible this fire season," English said. "It's definitely decreased our potential fire loss for the community, and being ready to respond to emergencies for medical calls or possibly other fires…I think everybody's been really good to work with."

Of course, English would like to keep up the good record, which is why he warns that it's not time to start burning yet.

Burning has been banned for most of the summer, with some exceptions for agricultural and other burns with permits. And even with rain in the forecast, crews don't expect to immediately lift the ban.

At the time of press, the county was still in high fire danger, and with the right temperature, humidity and wind speed, that can quickly escalate to extreme fire danger, according to English.

"When we had the rain last week, I had a few people call me and ask me if it was okay to burn again. No," English said. "The best way to put that would be that maybe a good, solid week long of torrential downpour would make us consider it to be safe to burn. But right now, with the atmosphere the way it is, that rain that falls will evaporate just about as fast as it fell and we'll be right back to the same dry conditions."

Fire season can extend into October or later, depending on temperature, moisture level, the Haines Index (a rating of the stability of the atmosphere) and other factors.

Residents interested in burning should call Canby Fire at 503-266-1195 before doing so. For agricultural or forestry burning with a permit, call Canby Fire at 503-266-5851 before starting any fire. See for more details.

Kristen Wohlers
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