Human-caused wildfires have broken out throughout the state, and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management is working to prevent these blazes by raising fire prevention awareness.
Human-caused wildfires burned approximately 228,000 acres in 2017, including 48,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge from the Eagle Creek Fire, which was caused by a then 15-year-old boy throwing fireworks in the Eagle Creek Canyon on Sept. 2.
The boy, whose name authorities have never released, was ordered to pay $36 million in restitution in May.
With the current extreme-fire risk, the Oregon State Parks department has banned all campfires in state parks except for coastal campgrounds, but the ban is still in effect for the coastal campgrounds of Alfred Loeb and Saddle Mountain.
In the past two weeks, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has responded to at least 30 human-caused fires, and the blazes have burned more than 20,000 acres, according to a press release from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. The causes include vehicles with faulty exhaust systems and cars overheating, abandoned campfires, target shooting and debris burning.
"Eliminating human-caused wildfires helps all Oregonians," said Peter Daugherty in the release, a state forester for the (ODF). "Preventing even one wildfire allows firefighting resources to concentrate on the lightning-caused wildfires we can't prevent, and minimizes public and firefighter risk."
Tips to mitigate human-caused wildfires:
• Mow before 10 a.m., but not when it is windy or exessively dry.
• Lawn mowers are designed to cut lawns, not weeds or dry grass. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires
• Wildfires sparked along roadways may be caused by traveling motorists
• Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground.
• Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on exposed wheel rims will throw sparks.
• Properly maintain brakes; brakes worn too thin may cause metal-to-metal contact which can cause a spark.
• Practice safe towing. Check for dragging chains, use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains.
• Don't drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush; hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires.
• Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and know how to use it.
— Compiled by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.